Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2014

NATO and the Arab League: The Importance of Being Earnest

Mona El-Kouedi

June 2013

NATO Defense College


With the situation in Syria continuing to deteriorate and a death tally of more than 70,000, the Arab League (AL) reached out to representatives of the Syrian opposition. Arab leaders offered the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) the seat of Syria in the AL's 24th Summit in Doha, which took place on 26 March 2013. In his address on that occasion, SNC leader Moaz Al-Khatib asked the US and NATO to extend "the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian North". Al-Khatib added: "We are still waiting for a decision from NATO to protect people's lives, not to fight but to protect lives". NATO was quick in responding to Al-Khatib, but gave him the answer that he least wanted to hear. The Alliance's Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen confirmed: "(W)e have no plans to change the purpose of, and coverage of the deployed Patriot missiles".