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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora