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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More