News / Middle East

Arab League Extends Syria Observer Mission Amid Serious Divisions

An anti-Syrian regime protester colors his fingers with the revolutionary flag colors during a protest outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.
An anti-Syrian regime protester colors his fingers with the revolutionary flag colors during a protest outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.

Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo on Sunday, voted to extend the group's already month-old observer mission to Syria, nearly doubling its strength of 165 observers to 300. The decision, which provoked serious disagreements among member states, includes a plan for Syria to form a national unity government, followed by new elections.

The decision to extend the Arab League observer mission was accompanied by a demand that Damascus agree to the formation of a national unity government.  The final terms of the plan were issued after hours of closed door debate.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabber al Thani said that the lengthy debate among Arab countries was sincere and that the Arab League was not divided.  He added that there is no desire to prolong the Syrian crisis and cause further bloodshed or economic damage.

He said the Syrian government must comply with previous Arab League demands to end the violence, withdraw its army from civilian areas and release prisoners in addition to facilitate the mission of the Arab League observer team, which will be expanded and receive U.N. training.

Al Thani went on to stress that the main focus of the new Arab League plan is the formation of a national unity government under the auspices of Syria's vice president.  He said that the new plan resembles the Arab plan that reached a political solution in Yemen.

Qatar's foreign minister said the Syrian opposition would begin a dialogue with the government under the auspices of the Arab League and that Syria's vice president would be tasked with forming that new government within two months.  He noted that the plan also calls for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in the coming months.

Arab League head Nabil al Arabi indicated that the plan had been developed after consultation with opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun and that it involves the designation of a special envoy to mediate between the opposition and the government.

He said he would appoint a special envoy to mediate between the two sides.  He stressed that the Arab League seeks a peaceful solution similar to what happened in Yemen and opposes a Libyan-style international intervention.

Qatar's foreign minister criticized the Syrian government for the ongoing violence, saying that the “excessive use of force” had prompted the Syrian people to “take arms to defend itself.”

Several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, had pushed for stronger action, calling on the league to refer Syria to the U.N. Security Council.  Earlier in the day, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters that Riyadh is pulling its observers out of Syria.

He said that the "crimes" committed against the Syrian people must be dealt with and that Saudi Arabia is withdrawing its observers because the Syrian government has not fulfilled its obligations under the Arab plan, particularly putting an end to the violence.

Al-Faisal said Syria had not implemented any of the terms of the Arab League plan and demanded that Arab states and the international community “assume their responsibilities” regarding Syria.

Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun, who met with Arab League officials in Cairo, called on the league to withdraw its observer mission and take the case to the U.N. Security Council.  The opposition has condemned the decision to prolong the Arab League mission, saying that more than 900 Syrian civilians have been killed since the Arab League mission began.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid