News / Middle East

Arab League Presses Syria to End Crackdown

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, October 9, 2011.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, October 9, 2011.

Arab diplomats met Sunday with top Syrian officials in Doha, Qatar to try to de-escalate tensions between the Syrian government and the popular opposition as a bloody government crackdown draws more international condemnation.

Syrian government forces pursued their violent crackdown in and around the flashpoint cities of Homs and Hama, as Arab diplomats worked to stop the bloodshed during talks with a top Syrian envoy in Doha, Qatar.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem in a bid to put an end to the mounting spiral of bloodshed and violence.  Al-Arabiya TV said Sheikh Hamad delivered an Arab League message “urging Syria to stop firing on unarmed civilians.”

The TV added Muallem complained the international community was over-reacting to “exaggerations and lies in the Arab media.”

It is not clear if any Syrian opposition leaders met with Muallem, but an opposition memo urged world leaders to “further isolate Syria, politically, diplomatically and economically.”

Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, believes the Arab League has sent a tough message to Assad that he must begin the process of stepping down or that more drastic measures will be taken. "I think this is a moment where the Arab League has probably laid down a fairly tough line and people are calling for Syria to be excluded. The Arab League has probably said 'you need to move forward and you need to start leaving power," he said.

Iran's Fars News Agency also reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was visiting the Qatari capital to “meet senior Qatari officials” and to “exchange views over regional and international issues.”  It is not clear if Salehi planned to meet with anyone from the Syrian opposition.

Earlier in an interview with Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned newspaper against Western intervention in his country's popular uprising, claiming it would “provoke an earthquake,” or an international crisis on a par with Afghanistan. Assad insisted Syria is able to deal with the crisis on its own.

He says that although the situation seems dangerous, Syria is able to deal with it and has started to make progress on the security front, recently.  He argues that it is necessary to make progress in maintaining security, but that he is not worried about the situation.

Opposition demonstrators called on the West during protests Friday to impose a “no-fly zone,” over their country, like the one imposed on Libya last March. Until now, China and Russia have opposed UN Security Council draft resolutions that impose any harsh sanctions on Damascus.

But a Chinese envoy to the Middle East warned Sunday that the situation in Syria is critical and the government crackdown on its people “could not continue.”  He urged the Assad government to hold talks with opponents, calling on Damascus to “show flexibility.”

Meanwhile, Syria's Prime Minister Adel Safar hosted a conference in Damascus on economic reform, which he called an “unstoppable process”:

He says that he considers reform all-encompassing process, including political, media, judicial, administrative and economic reforms.  He adds that there is no turning back on economic reform.

Syrian government supporters also staged a rally in the mostly Druze southern mountain town of Sweda.  Government TV showed large crowds of people chanting slogans in favor of President Assad and waving his picture.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
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 a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs