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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid