News / Middle East

Arab League Awaits Syrian Response

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center right, meets with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jabr al-Thani, center left, Damascus, Oct. 26, 2011.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center right, meets with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jabr al-Thani, center left, Damascus, Oct. 26, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +

The Arab League's point-man for Syria, Qatar's foreign minister, says the league is waiting for a Syrian response to a demand that Damascus pull its tanks off the streets and start negotiations with the opposition.  

Syrian security forces stormed a university campus in the southern flashpoint city of Daraa Monday, firing on students and making arrests. Military operations were also reported across scattered parts of northern Syria, as diplomats awaited Damascus' official response to Arab League demands that it stop attacking civilians and begin a dialogue with the opposition.

Arab League chief Nabil Elarabi told the French news agency that Syria was being asked to “withdraw tanks and all military vehicles, to put an immediate end to violence, and to reassure its people.”  Elarabi added that Syria must also begin talks with the opposition in Cairo.

However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview carried on state television that his government requires a valid partner in order to enter into any dialogue:

He says a dialogue always requires two parties, and not just one. He also warns that the parties that participate must be acceptable to the Syrian people, claiming that no dialogue can be held with parties that have ties with foreign powers or ties to what he calls terrorism.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jaber Al Thani gave Damascus a thinly veiled warning, insisting that reform is necessary if outside intervention of the sort which occurred in Libya is to be avoided:

He says a big tempest is shaking the entire region, and Arab leaders must learn to deal with it properly, without pretending, skirting the issues or employing fraud.  Reforms are needed, he says, so as to avoid the sorts of problems which occurred in certain countries where change was difficult, destruction widespread, and many sacrifices were made.

Analyst Peter Harling of the Crisis Group predicts the Syrian opposition will start a process of militarization if the prospects for a peaceful solution evaporate:

"I think that the temptation now is to resort to weapons, and in particular if the protesters come to the conclusion that the international community is either powerless or inclined to sacrifice the Syrian people in the name regional stability," said Harling. "So, if nothing comes of this initiative, I think we'll see a shift in dynamics on the ground towards militarization of the protest movement.”

Harling adds that the Syrian government continues to depict the protest movement as “provincial, Islamist and sectarian,” calling it a “Sunni Muslim and underclass” phenomenon, so the authorities can "rally support from the middle and upper classes and the urban elite in Damascus and Aleppo.”

Meanwhile, an official conference was convened in Damascus Monday to revamp the constitution.  Syrian state television said the meeting was the result of a decree by President Assad last August.  The television also broadcast parts of a two-day economic reform conference.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid