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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs