Thursday, November 17, 2011

Arab ministers give Syria ultimatum

 Arab foreign ministers meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Wednesday followed up on their earlier threat and formally agreed to suspend Syria's membership of the Arab League. The League said Syria had three days to stop the bloody repression and allow in a team of international monitors to check if the violence stopped.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said that the Arab states had "almost reached the end of the line" with Damascus. Qatar is the acting head of the 22 member Arab League.
The vote in the Arab League opened up possibilities for a new attempt to push through a resolution in the U.N Security Council after Russia and China earlier blocked such a move. France, Britain, Germany and a number of Arab states are to submit a draft resolution to the calling for a vote in the UN General Assembly condemning the violence. The French Foreign minister Alain Juppé went to Ankara to discuss measures with this neighbour of Syria on how to increas pressure on the government in Damascus.
The plan drawn up by the Arab League earlier this month calls on Syria to withdraw tanks from restive cities, cease its attacks on protesters and engage in dialogue with the opposition within two weeks. Mr Assad had agreed to the plan, but has failed to honour it and the violence has continued. More than 370 people have been killed since the announcement of the plan on 2 November, say rights groups.
As the Arab League meeting was underway in Morocco, angry crowds in Damascus attacked the embassies of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Morocco responded by recalling its ambassador to Syria, AFP news agency reported. Hours earlier, France also said it was withdrawing its ambassador. Some other states followed.

Free Syrian Army

Meanwhile, a group of defected soldiers - the Free Syrian Army - says it has carried out a number of attacks on government troops in recent days, including an assault on the notorious Air Force Intelligence building in the Damascus suburb of Harasta.The groups commander, Riad al-Asad, told the BBC on Wednesday that while he did not want people to take up arms against the regime, "It is our right to defend our people because the international community does nothing".
The rebel Free Syrian Army announced on Wednesday the creation of a temporary military council with the aim of ousting the regime of President Bashar Assad and protecting civilians from his forces.
"Based on the requirements of this phase and the demands of the Syrian revolution, the Free Syrian Army is establishing a temporary military council," a statement said.
The council aims to "bring down the current regime, protect Syrian civilians from its oppression, protect private and public property, and prevent chaos and acts of revenge when it falls."
Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, who defected from the regular army to form the Syrian Free Army in July, will chair the council. The council's leadership also includes four colonels and three majors.

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