News / Middle East

    Syria Faces Growing Isolation for Crackdown

    Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria speak to Reuters TV at their temporary home in Amman, Jordan, November 14, 2011.
    Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria speak to Reuters TV at their temporary home in Amman, Jordan, November 14, 2011.
    Elizabeth Arrott

    Syria on Monday called the Arab League decision to suspend its membership illegal, but the reaction likely will do little to stem the growing isolation of the Assad government during its violent crackdown on political dissent.

    Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem called Syria's suspension from the Arab League a very dangerous step that was incited by the United States.

    The top Syrian diplomat said his country is implementing an Arab League peace plan to remove its troops from the streets, release political prisoners and engage in dialogue with the opposition.

    Syria disputes suspension

    He also argued that the charter of the 22-nation league calls for all members to vote for suspension. Yemen and Lebanon voted against the Saturday decision, while Iraq abstained.

    Despite the criticism by fellow Arab countries, Moallem expressed confidence that Syria would be protected from wider action against it. He said allies Russia and China would block any international attempt to move against his government.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow opposes the Arab League suspension of Syria. China urged Syria to implement the Arab League peace plan.  

    Criticism grows lounder

    But condemnation of Syria continues to grow beyond the Arab world, after supporters of the Syrian government attacked a number of embassies in Damascus on Saturday and Sunday.

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara will take decisive action in response to attacks on its diplomatic missions in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia, and he pledged continued support of the Syrian people in what he called their "rightful struggle."

    Nadhim Shehadi, a Syria expert at the research group Chatham House, said the consistency of the message to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is key to ending the government's violent crackdown on dissent.

    "The regime had been gaining strength because of the contradictory positions from the international community and from the Arab League and from the regional powers. So, one day they want him to reform. One day they want dialogue. Sometimes they tell him to step aside, and [then] tell him again about dialogue. So all this hesitation gave the regime further strength," said Shehadi.

    Eroding support, less dialogue

    Shehadi, speaking from Beirut, said the loss of support in the regional alliance Syria helped found will mean more than any sanctions the league is threatening.

    "What we should look for is more eroding the legitimacy, rather than eroding the economy or hitting at certain sectors of the population so that they would turn [against the government], because it is unpredictable how they will turn," said Shehadi.

    The Arab League meets Wednesday, the day Syria's suspension is to take effect, to discuss sanctions it might add to those already imposed by Western nations.

    The Syrian foreign minister repeated an invitation to league members to come to Damascus before then. League observers say the offer is likely to be turned down.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.