Arabs may ask Security Council to adopt Syria plan

Qatari FM says Arab League will not request military action, but Syria delaying its response to peace plan.

By REUTERS
December 17, 2011 15:29
3 minute read.
Qatar PM, talks to Arab League Secretary-General

Qatar PM, talks to Arab League Secretary-General (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )

DUBAI - Arab states may ask the UN Security Council to adopt an Arab peace plan aimed at ending a Syrian crackdown on pro-democracy protests but they will not seek military action, the Qatari foreign minister said on Saturday.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani told a news conference after an Arab League ministerial committee meeting in Doha that Syria was delaying in its response to the peace plan presented by Arab states last month.

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"Since Russia has gone to the UN Security Council, there is a draft Arab resolution to be sent to the Arab League meeting on Dec. 21 to ask the Security Council to adopt the Arab initiative and Arab resolutions instead of resolutions from other states," Sheikh Hamad told a news conference.

"We are not talking about military action but we will ask the Security Council to adopt the Arab initiative," he said.

Arab foreign ministers will discuss asking the UN Security Council to adopt the Arab peace proposal at a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday, he said.

At the panel, diplomats voiced optimism that new Russian pressure on Damascus could overcome its resistance to the proposal.

Al Jazeera television said Syria's government had demanded an end to what it termed a media campaign against it and to alleged arms smuggling to its opponents before signing the Arab League protocol outlining steps to defuse the Syrian crisis.

Arab governments on Friday called off a regular foreign ministers' meeting meant to weigh Syria's response to the initiative for ending violence, in which more than 5,000 people involved in Syria's unrest have been killed, by UN count.

Instead, a lower-level meeting of the League's ministerial committee on Syria, comprising the foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Qatar and Algeria, began in Qatar on Saturday.

Diplomats at Arab League headquarters in Cairo said the full ministerial meeting was canceled because some Arab governments had yet to give their reply to a conditional Syrian acceptance of the League protocol presented last month.

President Bashar al-Assad's government demanded the annulment of Arab League sanctions imposed on Damascus and Syria's reinstatement in the regional bloc.

The League had suspended Syria's membership over its refusal to comply with the peace plan calling for Assad to withdraw troops and tanks from restive cities, free prisoners and start a reform-minded dialogue with the opposition.

The Arab League also wants to send an observer mission to Syria to ensure compliance with the proposal.

Assad, whose family has ruled Syria with an iron hand for 41 years, says his government is fighting insurgents inspired by foreign powers.

Diplomats voiced new optimism that heightened pressure on Syria arising from Russia's introduction of a beefed up draft resolution against the violence at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday might prod Assad to accept the Arab League plan.

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The move by Moscow, long a major arms supplier to Damascus, offered a chance for the 15-nation Security Council to make its first statement of purpose on the Syrian upheaval.

The council has been split, with Western countries harshly critical of Syria pitted against Russia, China and non-aligned countries that have avoided blaming Assad for the violence.

Al Jazeera said that any signing of the protocol by Syria was likely to take place in Cairo and not in Qatar.


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