Arabs want swift action on Syria

2012-02-12 18:48

Cairo - Arab ministers called on Sunday for swift Arab and international action to end bloodshed in Syria after Russia and China blocked a Western-backed Arab peace plan at the UN Security Council.

Arab ministers met in Cairo to revive diplomatic efforts after the Arab initiative that called for President Bashar Assad to step aside was stalled by the double veto in New York.

As part of the Arab efforts, Tunisia said it would host the first meeting on February 24 of a "Friends of Syria" contact group made up of Arab and other states and backed by Western powers.

"How long will we stay as onlookers to what is happening to the brotherly Syrian people, and how much longer will we grant the Syrian regime one period after another so it can commit more massacres against its people?" Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal asked ministers at the start of the League session.

"At our meeting today I call for decisive measures, after the failure of the half-solutions," he said. "The Arab League should... open all channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and give all forms of support to it."

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said he was proposing a new joint Arab-UN monitoring team to Syria, replacing an Arab mission beset by problems since it began work in December. The Sudanese general leading the Arab observers quit on Sunday.

"I won't work one more time in the framework of the Arab League," General Mohammed al-Dabi, whose appointment had been criticised because of Sudan's own rights record, told Reuters.

"I performed my job with full integrity and transparency but I won't work here again as the situation is skewed," he added.

Ministers from Gulf Arab states, which have been leading the drive to isolate Assad and end his bloody 11-month crackdown on protests against his rule, met separately earlier.

Recognise opposition

A source who attended the Gulf meeting said the ministers had discussed recognising the opposition Syrian National Council and would propose that Arab states each take such a step.

Gulf states announced last week that they were recalling their ambassadors from Syria and expelling Syria's envoys. Libya and Tunisia, both countries where popular revolts toppled authoritarian rulers last year, have done likewise.

The Gulf ministers also discussed "terminating the [Arab observer] mission in its existing form", the source said.

Criticised by Syria's opposition for failing to halt violence, the 165-strong Arab mission suffered from internal dissent, as well as logistics and training problems.

Elaraby told Reuters last week that any new mission to Syria would have to be bigger and better equipped, with a different mandate with international support.

The idea of a joint Arab-UN mission has won only a tepid response from UN diplomats.

The Saudi minister criticised the Security Council's failure to back the Arab plan for Syria but did not name Russia and China. Elaraby said the veto, cause of much Arab frustration, exposed the failings of the Council's voting system.

"The Syrian people deserve freedom as much as their brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other Arab states that witnessed major political change," Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Ben Adessalam told ministers.

General Assembly

He announced that Tunisia would host the meeting of "Friends of Syria," a plan proposed by France and the United States after Russia and China blocked the Security Council resolution.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the new forum would provide "a good opportunity to try to create a clear international direction to help the Syrian people to exit the crisis".

The Egyptian news agency said Elaraby had proposed appointing former Jordanian minister and UN envoy to Libya, Abdel Elah al-Khatib, as the League's special envoy to Syria.

Diplomats at the United Nations said Saudi Arabia had circulated a new draft resolution backing the Arab plan for the General Assembly, rather than the Security Council, to consider. Assembly resolutions are non-binding but cannot be vetoed.

However, Riyadh denied on Sunday reports that it had formally presented the resolution to the assembly.

  • Fidel - 2012-02-12 19:01

    So you aren't looking to mediate but to support one side in a civil war and the Syrian authorities should still respect this body. How about asking for a cease fire from both sides, surely this will save lives in the immediate, if that's what you are looking to accomplish for Syria as you claim, unless you have a different agenda.

      John - 2012-02-12 19:12

      Europe is not listening. Long words of socialism are clogging up brain cells, no spark. Has Europe listed Syrian government assets and frozen them? No. Has Europe listed of Syrian officials, families and connections, and expelled them? No. Has Europe listed the belongings of those officials, families and connections, and confiscated them? No. Has Europe called for the removal of Turkey from Cyprus? No. Has Europe called for the removal of Turkey from Constantinople? No. Has Europe made null the benefits of extra wives and extra wives' children? No. Has Europe charged extra wives and extra wives's children for their extra social benefits costs? No. Europe is not listening.

      Demetrius.Syriopoulos - 2012-02-12 19:28

      Europe is on a mission, they do not care,LIVE_-_Syntagma.html

      Glyn - 2012-02-12 19:56

      Why must Europe Listen? Why must Europe care? Time for Arabs to do their own caring! This is one for the Arabs to fix! Or maybe ask the Russians/Indians/Chinese/Mongolians who have never fixed anything ever!

  • Glyn - 2012-02-12 19:30

    About time that the Arabs did their own dirty-work. They must sort Syria out, they must take the heat, they must stand up and be counted! Or can the Arabs not go the distance when the going gets tough? The West has done enough for the Arabs, time they pulled their own weight.

      Fidel - 2012-02-12 19:46

      Western intervention to "remedy" the damages ensuing from past Western foreign policy interventions aimed at stabilising this region. If this isn't the theatre of the absurd, I don't know what is.

  • Glyn - 2012-02-12 19:48

    @John - Why should Europe Listen? Why must Europe listed this or that? Why must Europe do Your dirty-work? Time the Arabs fixed their own house! Europe fixed Bosnia - got flack for that! Europe fixed Libya - got flack for that! Nato fixed Iraq - got flack for that! Time the Arabs fixed something for themselves! Time Africa fixed something for themselves! Time Europe got credit for the Gold that they discovered in Africa! Time Europe got credit for the Oil they discovered in Arabia! But do not despair! I agree with one of your lines.... "Long words of socialism are clogging up brain cells, no spark." Poor African countries need Socialism but cannot afford it - Rich European countries can afford Socialism but do not need it! "Socialism is government by clich├ęs!" A quote from Captain Morgan

      Demetrius.Syriopoulos - 2012-02-12 19:59

      @Glyn, Europe did not fix Bosnia, the USA did because they love the Lybian people so much. Europe did not fix Lybia, the USA did because they love the Lybian people so much. Nato did not fix Iraq, , the USA did because they love the Iraqi people so much. the National Government did for free Mandela, , the USA did because they love the South African people so much. the world does not need socialism, the world need human leaders that have the people at hearth and not self benifit and benefit of the couple of hundreds of croanies world wide. oh, yes feel free to substitue the phrase ", the USA did because they love the Lybian people so much., the USA did because they love the ........... people so much." with , the USA did because they love their domination and money so much"

      Fidel - 2012-02-12 20:00

      Bosnia- Ask the Serbs! Libya- Ask the Libyans who had the highest std of living in Africa. Iraq- Ask the Iraqis whose country and infrastructure has been destroyed. Europe didn't discover Gold for Africa. Africans need socialism because human beings are social by nature and the bigger extended family or village is part of African social structure. What you have written is gibberish, designed to placate those idiots who live by racial stereotypes regarding non Europeans.

      Glyn - 2012-02-12 20:08

      @Fidel - Quote "Africans.....bigger extended family or village is part of African structure" Unquote. Yes, you are right. About five hundred years ago that was also valid in Europe. Time Africa moved on. But do not worry... if you do not move on (and have as many children as you can afford to bring up) Europe will still send some more food to Africa.

      Fidel - 2012-02-12 20:17

      The majority of Africans still live as extended families today, especailly in rural Africa. Europe is unable to feed itself today and is importing most of its food from her ex colonies. It is only the USA in the western world that is self sufficient! Dumping highly subsidised agricultural products from the west to Africa has been very detrimental to the local farmers as locals have no need to source food from the local markets. I would be very happy if the west stopped dumping its maize in Africa and Africa would benefit tremendously.

  • Charmaine - 2012-02-12 20:20

    Arabs again, Oh well let them sort out their own messes and wars, we have enough to deal with here in South Africa, our crime rate is getting worst by the second and really, who give a damn about these Arabs and their wars and power fights?

  • brendonml - 2012-02-12 20:26

    yada yada yada, live your life, forget about politics, you are an immortal being.

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