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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs