News / Middle East

Syria Rejects Arab League Call for Power Transfer

An anti-government protester chants slogans in front of the foreign media in Homs, Syria, January 23, 2012.
An anti-government protester chants slogans in front of the foreign media in Homs, Syria, January 23, 2012.

Syria has rejected a new Arab League initiative for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and allow the formation of a national unity government.

The plan agreed to by Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo Sunday requires Mr. Assad to transfer power to a deputy and allow the formation of a unity government with the opposition within two months. The country's new leaders would be responsible for organizing parliamentary and presidential elections under Arab and international supervision.

Syrian state media denounced the plan Monday as a "flagrant" violation of Syrian sovereignty. Qatar said the Arab League will ask the United Nations Security Council to support the initiative.

European envoys at the United Nations swiftly hailed the plan. Germany's U.N. ambassador welcomed it as a potential "game changer."

The Security Council has been blocked for months over Syria, with Russia and China maintaining that any moves in the U.N. body against Mr. Assad would be the first steps toward regime change by force, as happened in Libya last year.

Also Monday, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels approved additional sanctions on Syria, imposing travel bans and asset freezes on another 22 people and eight companies linked to the Assad government.

The Syrian uprising against Mr. Assad's 11-year autocratic rule has become increasingly militarized in recent weeks. In the latest unrest Monday, Syrian rights activists say army defectors killed five pro-Assad troops in a battle in the central province of Homs. They say government security forces also killed at least 10 civilians in operations against centers of protest around Syria.

Activists also say at least 60,000 people gathered in the protest hub of Douma, near Damascus, for the funerals of 11 people killed by pro-Assad forces in recent days. It was not possible to independently verify details of the funeral procession or the casualties because Syria severely restricts independent media coverage in the country.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the top US diplomat for the Middle East would press Moscow on a reported $550 million deal to sell Syria 36 advanced Yak-130 light attack fighter jets. She said Jeffrey Feltman was in the Russian capital Monday and that Syria was "issue number one on his agenda."

The advanced training aircraft could be used for attacks on ground targets and to train pilots on Syria's more advanced fleet of Mig-29 fighters, which it ordered from Russia in 2007. Moscow is one of Mr. Assad's few remaining allies, and Syria is its top arms customer.

The respected Russian business daily Kommersant first reported the deal.

Meanwhile, the Arab League mission's Sudanese chief, General Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, said violence in Syria declined after league monitors began work on December 26. Speaking Monday to reporters in Cairo, al-Dabi said the observers' job is not to stop the unrest, but to monitor it.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syria says terrorists have killed about 2,000 security force members since the unrest began.

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

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More