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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs