CAIRO - Arabs will end their observer mission to
Syria and will ask the UN Security Council to send an international
peacekeeping force to end the bloodshed there, according to a draft
resolution obtained by Reuters on Sunday.
Arab ministers met in
Cairo to revive diplomatic efforts after Russia and China vetoed a UN
resolution that called for President Bashar Assad to step aside. That
resolution was based on an Arab peace plan and had Western backing.
draft resolution also called for tighter implementation of economic
sanctions Arabs previously imposed on Syria, halting diplomatic
cooperation with Syria and called for providing aid and political
support to the Syrian people.
As part of the Arab efforts, Tunisia
said it would host the first meeting on Feb. 24 of a "Friends of Syria"
contact group made up of Arab and other states and backed by Western
"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."
The draft proposed scrapping the Arab monitoring
mission which had been sent to Syria in late December but which was
criticized by Syria's opposition as ineffective from the outset. It also
faced internal dissent and logistical problems.
The Sudanese general leading the observers quit on Sunday.
won't work one more time in the framework of the Arab League," General
Mohammed al-Dabi, whose appointment had been criticized 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.
The draft resolution instead called for "the UN Security Council to send an international peacekeeping force to Syria".
League chief Nabil Elaraby told the ministers he was proposing a new
joint Arab-UN monitoring team to Syria, an idea he has already proposed
to the UN secretary-general. That plan has drawn only lukewarm support
from diplomats in New York.Arab League agrees that Syria 'deserves freedom'
will also call for tightening sanctions that include halting
investments and stopping financial dealings with the Syrian government.
Analysts and diplomats say the measures have had limited impact so far
because Iraq and other neighbors have not implemented them.
a senior Arab League official said ministers in the meeting were
inclined to support Syria's opposition, Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik
Ben Adessalam said recognizing the Syrian National Council was
"premature and requires the opposition get unified." But he called for
action to help the Syrian people.
"The Syrian people deserve
freedom as much as their brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other
Arab states that witnessed major political change," Ben Adessalam told
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.
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".
states have been leading moves to isolate Assad. They announced last
week that they were recalling their ambassadors from Syria and expelling
Libya and Tunisia, both countries where popular revolts toppled authoritarian rulers last year, have done likewise.
Saudi minister criticized 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.
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.
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. But a source in the meeting said Khatib's name
was not put forward.