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.

    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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora