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

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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