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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs