News / Middle East

Arab League Keeps Syria as Member

Protesters chant slogans during an anti-Syrian regime protest in front of the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011.
Protesters chant slogans during an anti-Syrian regime protest in front of the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

Arab diplomats asked the Syrian government on Sunday to open a dialogue with anti-government protesters.  A Syrian "national dialogue" is set to be held at Arab League headquarters in two weeks, but commitment from Damascus for the planned talks is unclear.

The emergency Arab League meeting fell short of its original aim - suspending Syria from the regional group for the government's violent crackdown on civilian opponents.

But the Foreign Minister of Qatar, one of the six Persian Gulf nations to call for the meeting, said Arab states will be taking an initiative, and are calling on the Syrian government to hold talks with the opposition.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said he wants the discussions to take place in 15 days, at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.  He added that he hopes Damascus will respond to the call for a dialogue and begin to respond to the demands of the Syrian people.

Syria's Ambassador to the Arab League. Yousef Ahmad, said his country's government will respond positively and openly to "sincere and effective" Arab efforts to end the crisis.

Ahmad added that the Syrian government would propose an initiative to reinforce democracy, reform and human rights.  It was the most sweeping pledge by a Syrian official during more than seven months of anti-government demonstrations.  The government has yet to implement the changes.

Anti-Syrian demonstrators gathered outside Arab League headquarters in hopes that the group will move against Damsacus.  Most of the League's Persian Gulf members have already restricted diplomatic ties with Syria, recalling their ambassadors over the violence that the United Nations estimates has claimed more than 3,000 lives.

But those members failed to rally the necessary two-thirds majority needed to suspend Syria from the organization.  The governments of other League nations facing uprisings, including Yemen, reportedly are among those resisting the suspension.

Such action is not often taken by the group.  But earlier this year, the League suspended Libya for then-leader Moammar Gadhafi's crackdown on his opponents.  The move was considered a sign that foreign intervention, in the form of NATO military action, would find regional acceptance.

But discussions of an international military campaign in Syria have been far more muted, while the success of even more limited pressure is questioned by some analysts.

Egyptian political analyst and publisher, Hisham Kassem, says Syria's government will not consider foreign advice. "It's very difficult to see what anybody regionally could do, aside from a military intervention, which I don't think is going to happen.  So no political pressures will make a difference in the situation.  What you have out there is a president and a regime who know that they either massacre their population and stay in power or they are possibly going to be massacred themselves," he said.

As for the Arab League, long criticized for not backing up its declarations with action, it has yet to say what it will do if Syria's government fails to take part in the proposed national dialogue.

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

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid