News / Middle East

Syria Agrees to Arab League Peace Plan

Yussef al-Ahmad, Syria's ambassador to the Arab League, attends a ministerial meeting at the organization's Cairo headquarters, November 2, 2011.
Yussef al-Ahmad, Syria's ambassador to the Arab League, attends a ministerial meeting at the organization's Cairo headquarters, November 2, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

A breakdown of Arab League's Syria proposal:

  • The Syrian government agrees to withdraw security forces from the streets.
  • Pro-government forces will cease their violent crackdown on demonstrators.
  • Syria will release political prisoners arrested in the uprisings.
  • The president's representatives will begin talks in Cairo with Syrian opposition groups within two weeks.
  • Syria will allow foreign journalists and Arab League officials into the country to monitor the situation.

The Arab League says Syria has agreed to a plan aimed at ending months of violence during a government crackdown on dissent. But opponents, including protesters outside an emergency meeting in Cairo, remain skeptical of any promise by the Syrian government. Even as the diplomats were meeting, Syrian activists said another 31 people were killed in mounting violence.  

The Arab League's Secretary-general, Nabil el-Araby, called the deal "a paradigm shift" in the Syrian crisis, while Qatar's foreign minister said what is needed now is for Syria to carry it out.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al-Thani said the agreement will help calm conditions and solve the crisis, adding he hopes there is "a serious application" on Syria's part.

The Arab League plan calls for the withdrawal of Syria's army and armed personnel from the streets, an end to violence against protesters, and an immediate release of political prisoners.  It also calls for a dialogue between the Syrian government and its opponents, league monitoring of progress, and for foreign journalists to be allowed into the country.

Syria apparently dropped several objections to the deal, including meeting with members of the opposition outside of Syria. Talks are now set to begin in two weeks in Cairo.

But it is far from clear if the government will meet with opponents insisting on President Bashar al-Assad's departure.  The Syrian government has repeatedly called a wide swath of the protesters "terrorists" backed by foreign powers and ruled out talking with them.

The government had also opposed withdrawing security forces, arguing no country could pull back all its security presence.

Arab League officials conceded they could give no guarantees that Syria will carry through with the plan, but promised to follow up with the matter.

The Qatari foreign minister said the Arab League would not threaten anything, but noted the league is in permanent session and would call another meeting should that be needed.

For some, the lack of teeth in the league proposal, combined with past, unmet promises by Syria to reform, render the deal suspect.

Nadim Shehadi is a Syria expert at the London-based Chatham House:

"It's time to acknowledge that the Syrian regime is not acknowledging what is happening in the country and is not intending to make any reforms," said Shehadi. "So it is, in a way, playing games and trying to delay matters, because it knows that is the only way forward with the international community."

Western leaders have condemned Syria's crackdown but have been reluctant to threaten any military intervention as they did in Libya with a NATO air mission.

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

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice 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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

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 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 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 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