News / Middle East

Arab League Officials Vow to Continue Syria Mission

Members of the Arab League hold a meeting on Syria in Cairo, Egypt, January 8, 2012.
Members of the Arab League hold a meeting on Syria in Cairo, Egypt, January 8, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott

Arab League officials have demanded Syria abide by its agreement to end violence against civilians and have vowed to carry on with a monitoring mission that many in the Syrian opposition feel is ineffectual.  

In their first review of the Arab League's observer mission in Syria, regional foreign ministers took few concrete steps that would put additional pressure on Damascus.   

Officials at the Cairo meeting had been expected to discuss possible U.N. technical help, a step towards bringing in additional nations to deal with Syria's brutal crackdown on a popular uprising.

But one of the most outspoken critics of the Syrian government, Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Jassin al-Thani, warned the monitoring mission is not open-ended, adding officials have a rough idea of when they will decide no further progress can be made. "But I do not think it is wise to announce this date.  We do not want to threaten anybody.  We are trying to cooperate with everybody, until we achieve peace in Syria, which up until now we are not satisfied [about] and I cannot see it," he said.

The Qatari prime minister, who also serves as foreign minister, said the league is doing its best, but the results are not ideal.  He called for the Syrian government to stop the "bloodbath.

The mission began late last month to oversee Syria's compliance with a league peace plan, but the opposition reports several hundred more civilian deaths since their arrival.  The United Nations estimates about 5,000 civilians have been killed in 10 months of unrest.   

Opposition members, including protesters outside the Cairo hotel where the meeting was held Sunday, say the observers are being tricked by Syrian officials who allegedly order attacks on civilians halted while the monitors make their rounds, only to resume the assaults once league officials move on.  Syria had vowed to withdraw its military from the streets, but opponents say soldiers have simply donned police uniforms and disguised their vehicles.  

Some Arab League diplomats have been calling for U.N. help to better train the monitors to carry out their assignment, or possibly accompany them.

The United Nations is set to meet Tuesday to discuss the situation, but opponents of intervention, most notably Russia, say they would rule out even technical assistance.  

A Russian flotilla was reported to have docked Sunday at the Syrian port of Tartus, in an apparent show of support for the government.  But some political observers believe that outside intervention is inevitable.

American University of Beirut Political Science Professor Hilal Khashan says he does not expect the league monitors will implicate the Syrian government. "I think their activity will go on and it will be inconclusive.  Eventually the international community will have to do something about the situation in Syria because the Arab League is not equipped to deal with the situation," he said.

Khashan says time is on the Syrian government's side, and the longer it takes to mount effective external pressure, the more the leadership in Damascus hopes it will not go the way of its former counterparts in Cairo or Tunis. "The regime feels that if they continue to buy time, they will eventually succeed in clamping down on the opposition and reducing its significance," he said.

But Khashan notes that their failure to do so over the past 10 months makes it difficult to assume they can any time soon.  With no end in sight to the killing, such a prospect has only further emboldened government opponents to demand moving beyond the Arab League observer mission to more forceful outside help.

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 Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid