January 24, 2012 |
An Arab League peace plan for Syria appeared to be near collapse Tuesday as six Persian Gulf nations announced their intention to withdraw monitors from the country and urged the United Nations Security Council to take "all needed measures" to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to relinquish power. The gulf monarchies, including regional giant Saudi Arabia, said in a statement that Assad's government had failed to comply with demands by the 22-member regional bloc designed to curb months of bloodshed in Syria.
January 22, 2012 |
With no end to the bloodshed in Syria, the Arab League on Sunday called for President Bashar Assad to hand over power to his top deputy and sought the formation of a unity government to prepare for early elections. The league's demands seem certain to anger the Syrian government, which blames months of unrest on "foreign conspiracies" and has repeatedly rejected what it regards as attacks on its sovereignty. League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said the 22-member regional bloc would seek endorsement from the United Nations Security Council for its plan but did not say what it would do if Syria did not comply with its demands.
January 21, 2012 |
In a central square, government supporters set up a stage and speakers for a rally, watched over by a towering portrait of President Bashar Assad that draped four stories of Syria's sanctioned central bank. A short drive away, burly men in leather jackets wielding guns and truncheons massed outside a police station in the restive Midan neighborhood, near the site of a deadly bombing last month, ready to respond to the first sign of protest. So began another Friday in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
January 20, 2012 |
As the clock ran out on the Arab League's observer mission in Syria, members found themselves largely confined to their hotels while the 22-member regional bloc fended off accusations of failure and wrestled with the problem of what to do next. The one-month mission was intended to determine whether the Syrian government was keeping its pledge to end its crackdown against a 10-month-old uprising. But from the start, there were widespread doubts about whether it had the resources and independence to do the job. The question as the deadline expired Thursday was whether an expanded but still limited mission was better than no mission at all. With no sign of a letup in the bloodshed, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday must decide whether to keep going.
January 16, 2012 |
When observers from the Arab League drove into this mountain town in southwestern Syria, a hotbed of dissent against President Bashar Assad, they received a hero's welcome. Residents mobbed the observers' car, clamored to tell of their plight, and carried one of them away on their shoulders in celebration. But just hours later, the five league representatives sped away under a hail of bullets. It was impossible to determine who was doing the shooting. The episode Sunday was a rare, unsettling glimpse into the spiraling conflict that is threatening to plunge Syria into civil war and the challenges faced by about 160 monitors who are trying to verify wildly divergent versions of events under sometimes dangerous conditions.
January 12, 2012
Speaking from what he apparently considers a position of strength, Syrian President Bashar Assad this week condemned the "terrorists," "traitors" and "outsiders" he said were leading the 10-month-old uprising against him and threatened to strike his enemies with an "iron fist. " Preventing such an offensive by the regime, which has complied only fitfully with a demand by the Arab League that it restrain itself, will be difficult. But the Arab League and the United Nations can and must do more to minimize the violence and brutal repression in Syria, which has continued unabated since the uprising began.
January 10, 2012 |
Syrian President Bashar Assad's condemnation of fellow Arab leaders exposes the power struggle running through a region where he, and his father before him, helped lead the cause of Arab nationalism. In his first address to his country since June, a defiant Assad vowed to crush a 10-month-old popular revolt against him. But he also raged at what he regards as the Arab League's betrayal of Damascus, singling out the Persian Gulf nations that have risen in stature as traditional powers Syria and Egypt have faded.
January 10, 2012 |
In a defiant national address, Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday blamed "foreign conspiracies" for a nearly 10-month uprising in Syria and vowed to "strike with an iron fist" against opponents he labeled terrorists. "What has been decided in dark rooms is now revealed before the eyes of the people," Assad said in Damascus, the Syrian capital. It was a familiar refrain from a leader who critics say has refused to acknowledge the depth of public anger over four decades of Assad family rule.
January 10, 2012
Memo to the new leaders of Libya: If you're trying to establish a democratic, internationally recognized state founded on the rule of law, it's a very bad idea to seek governance advice from the modern successor to Idi Amin. In one of the more incongruous diplomatic visits in recent memory, Libyan officials over the weekend rolled out the red carpet for none other than Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir — the dictator next door wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for slaughtering his own people, very like the military dictator just overthrown in Libya who was also wanted by the ICC on similar charges.
January 8, 2012 |
Thousands of government supporters turned out Saturday for the funeral service for victims of a bombing in Damascus, the Syrian capital, waving flags and holding up pictures of President Bashar Assad, state media reported. Syria's Interior Ministry has vowed to strike back with an "iron fist" after what it described as a suicide bombing in Midan, one of the few neighborhoods in central Damascus where major antigovernment protests have taken place. Authorities said 26 people were killed, including 15 who have not been identified, and 63 were injured in Friday's attack.