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Entries in Arab League (25)

Friday
Mar302012

Arab League Summit Gets Off to Shaky Start in Baghdad

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- This was not the way the Iraqi government envisioned things happening as the highly-anticipated Arab League summit got underway Thursday in Baghdad.

For one thing, the participants were greeted with rockets, presumably fired by the enemies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's regime.  One hit near the fortified Green Zone where the summit was taking place while two others landed elsewhere in Baghdad.  No injuries were reported.

More embarrassing for the Iraqi government was that the only monarch from its neighboring Gulf states who showed up was from Kuwait while the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were conspicuously absent as were the rulers of Jordan and Morocco.

There is still a great deal of distrust between the Sunni leaders of the Arab League and Iraq's Shiite government, particularly since Baghdad now considers Iran a close ally.

The Arab League is also angry that Iraq hasn't take a stronger stand against Syria, which continues to crack down on pro-democracy dissidents.

Still, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who also attended the summit, exhorted all the summit participants to go along with a plan backed by the international community to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the onslaught against civilians that has claimed more than 8,000 lives over the past year.

The group then endorsed the plan, which calls for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations between Damascus and opposition leaders although there is no demand for al-Assad to step down.

This was the first Arab League summit since before the "Arab Spring" last year that spawned revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Arab League Members to Witness the "New" Iraq at Summit

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- It's a huge week in Iraq, one that Baghdad says will convince its neighbors just how far the nation has come since it was invaded by U.S.-led forces nine years ago to depose dictator Saddam Hussein.

Members of the Arab League will get to see it for their own eyes as they convene for a summit in the Iraqi capital.

The last time Arab League officials gathered for such an event in Iraq in the early 1990s, Saddam was running the show and the government was decidedly undemocratic.

Two decades later, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has gone as far to claim "This summit could truly be called the Arab Spring summit...It is a recognition of the new Iraq that emerged since 2003 by its new leaders, its new constitution, its new policies, its new political system at the heart of the Middle East."

What Iraqi leaders want to desperately avoid is a repeat of last week's carnage by al Qaeda and other militants, who launched a coordinated series of deadly bombings and gun attacks that stretched from northern cities through Baghdad and into the south.

Since the summit is taking place inside the fortified Green Zone, the Arab guests would likely be shielded from any violence should insurgents go on another rampage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

No Response Yet for UN Envoy on Syria Peace Proposals

Jason Kempin/FilmMagic(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan may be waiting a long time before he gets a response from the Syrian government about his peace proposals.

Annan, now a U.N.-Arab League special envoy, held discussions with both President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition Syrian National Council on how to end the year-long crackdown that has left close to 8,000 people dead, most of them civilians.

Annan said he presented concrete proposals that he hopes both sides will take seriously.  However, given the deep level of mistrust between the Syrian government and rebel forces, it won't be shocking if Annan comes away disappointed.

Al-Assad has made no secret that he's determined to wipe out anyone opposed to his 11-year autocratic regime by bombarding them militarily.

His enemies allege that the president's efforts at introducing reform are illusionary, especially after a recent election that would keep al-Assad in power for another 14 years.  Al-Assad has also scheduled parliamentary elections for the beginning of May, which are heavily stacked in his favor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb232012

Former UN Chief Named Special Envoy to Syria

Jason Kempin/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations and Arab League on Thursday named Kofi Annan, former secretary-general for the U.N., a joint special envoy to Syria.

The 73-year-old Ghanaian diplomat will be tasked to promote peace on behalf of the United Nations-Arab League in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad continues a violent crackdown on Syrian citizens.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moom and Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby made the announcement of Annan's appointment Thursday in a joint statement.  The statement said a deputy from the Arab world would be chosen later to assist Annan, according to the U.N. website.

Annan's appointment was announced following the release of a U.N. report that found a significant decrease in human rights in Syria.

Annan served as U.N. chief from 1997 to 2006.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan312012

Situation Growing Worse in Syria as UN Readies to Deal with Al-Assad

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Damascus has become the latest battleground in the 10-month-long war between pro-democracy dissidents and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government forces.

By nightfall Monday, al-Assad's soldiers had apparently taken back the suburbs of the Syrian capital, which had been captured by rebel fighters joined by army deserters.

With the Arab League refusing to extend its monitoring mission in Syria, it's feared that the violence responsible for more than 5,500 deaths throughout the country will further spiral out of control.

It is now being left to the United Nations to take some action to end what has turned into a civil war although Russia's veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council could thwart any attempts to force al-Assad out of office.

Sensing the U.N.'s continuing reluctance to get involved in Syria's morass, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday it was time for the international community to step up and hold the Syrian government accountable for its actions.

Carney told reporters, "We believe that the Security Council should not permit the Assad regime to assault the Syrian people while it rejects the Arab League's proposal for a political solution."

There is a resolution in the works that endorses the Arab League proposal for al-Assad to transfer power to a vice president so that a transitional government can set up free elections.  Yet, if Russia refuses to abstain during voting time, the resolution would go nowhere.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan302012

Arab League Quits Mission in Syria

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The Arab League understood it was involved in a losing cause when it announced over the weekend that its mission in Syria would be discontinued.

Observers were sent in earlier this month to determine if President Bashar al-Assad's government was following an agreement to remove soldiers and heavy artillery from cities in an attempt to end a 10-month violent crackdown on political dissidents.

Instead, the violence, which has taken 5,500 lives, grew worse and the Arab League decided its mission was having no effect while putting its own members in danger.

By Sunday, government forces were battling protesters and army deserters in areas of the capital city of Damascus, resulting in casualties on both sides.

The Arab League wants the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution calling for sanctions against Syria but faces a roadblock from al-Assad's ally Russia if it attempts such a move.

Meanwhile, there's also little hope that the president will follow an Arab League directive to step aside so that a transitional government can be formed in advance of general elections.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan272012

UN Security Council to Receive Arab League Plan for Syria

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- After nearly a year of unrest, the United Nations Security Council should receive a plan from Arab nations early next week that seeks to resolve the bloody government crackdown that has left at least 5,500 people dead according to U.N. estimates.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and Qatar's prime minister said Thursday they'll present their controversial proposal to the Security Council by Monday.

It calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cede power to one of his two vice presidents so that a transitional government can be set up ahead of national elections.

The Arab League, which sent monitors to Syria earlier this month to check on al-Assad's adherence to an agreement that would remove soldiers and tanks from cities, believes it needs the muscle of the U.N. to convince al-Assad to step aside.

However, Syria has already rejected the call for foreign intervention and there is little hope that al-Assad will voluntarily end his 11 years of autocratic rule despite condemnation by his neighbors and the West.

The Syrian president has vowed to crush all dissenters calling for reforms.  He claims they're being riled up by foreign terrorists; such elements were found to be an influence during the so-called "Arab Spring" in Egypt and elsewhere. In Egypt, the terror-linked Muslim Brotherhood managed to get one of its leaders voted in as parliament speaker, and voters swept hard-line Islamists into power.

It remains to be seen if the Security Council would actually pass a resolution demanding that al-Assad give up his rule since permanent member Russia has already said it would veto any plan requesting sanctions or military action against its ally.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

In New Blow to Arab League, Gulf Nations Pull Observers Out of Syria

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The Arab League mission to monitor the ongoing government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Syria lost more credibility on Tuesday when six nations announced they were pulling their observers because of the violence and Damascus' refusal to adhere to an agreement to end its military occupation of cities.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman all decided they could no longer participate in the mission that Syria said it would allow to be extended for one month.  All are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Arab League observers have already spent several weeks in Syria, which critics complained did little to stop the widespread killings by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.  The United Nations estimates that well over 5,500 people have died as the result of the crackdown over the past 10 months.

With the mission seemingly crippled, the Gulf Cooperation Council has called upon the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution approving the Arab League's mission in Syria as well as putting more pressure on Damascus to end the crackdown.

Al-Assad has rejected the call for foreign intervention to stop the mayhem while turning down an Arab League proposal to cede power to a transitional government so that free elections can take place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan242012

Syria Rejects Arab League Call for Al-Assad to Cede Power

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Already on the hot seat from critics who complained that its presence in Syria did nothing to stem the government crackdown on pro-democracy dissidents, the Arab League caught fire from the other direction Monday when it urged President Bashar al-Assad to cede power to a transitional body to end the 10 months of bloodshed.

Al-Assad's government was reacting to the Arab League's decision that a national dialogue should be followed by the formation of a unity government that would oversee elections.

In the interim, the Arab League urged al-Assad to hand over his authority to one of two vice presidents to ensure a smooth transition of power.

Calling the Arab League's proposal "blatant interference," an unidentified official said Monday, "Syria condemns this decision, which came in the framework of the conspiratorial schemes hatched against Syria."

Some anti-government activists hailed the Arab League plan while others charged that it was unworkable and would give al-Assad more time to wreak havoc on his political enemies.

The Arab League had just wrapped up a mission in Syria where it sent observers to monitor the government's adherence to an agreement to move troops and heavy artillery out of cities that have become flashpoints for violence against demonstrators.

By all accounts, the mission was a flop because the killings continued, some say at an even greater rate than before the Arab League monitors showed up.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan202012

Arab League Mission in Syria Ends as Crackdown Continues

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The Arab League monitoring mission in Syria ended Thursday with little to show for its effort.

Observers were supposed to have checked if President Bashar al-Assad was fulfilling a promise to remove government forces and heavy artillery from cities where pro-democracy dissidents have come under fire for the past 10 months.

The United Nations puts the death toll since the crackdown began last March at over 5,500, with al-Assad claiming that 2,000 members of government forces being killed.

During the time the Arab League monitors went from city to city, a human rights group estimates that nearly 750 people were killed as soldiers reportedly held their fire whenever observers showed up in a city and then resumed shooting after they left.

The Arab League will decide on Sunday whether to continue the mission, although critics said it was time to turn the matter over to the United Nations Security Council, which al-Assad is firmly against.

Even before the mission began, critics said it was too small and too limited to observe the full impact of the deadly crackdown. Furthermore, many of the observers were from Arab countries that also greatly restrict human rights.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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