Posts Tagged ‘League’

No impunity for Al-Assad France

July 25th, 2012 Comments off

France has said despite the Arab League making proposal of safe exit for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, it would not earn him an impunity, Xinhua reported. “In the end, for him … there will be …
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Late Night Follies: Former Foreign Minister and Arab League SG Calls Iran an Arab Country

May 11th, 2012 Comments off

They’re still going … and going … and going. The Egyptian Presidential debate has been going for some four hours and it’s pushing 3 am in Cairo. That may explain why Amr Moussa, former Foreign Minister and longtime Secretary General of the Arab League, just said that he opposes attacking Iran, as a fellow Arab country.

Does this mean we can end the “Persian Gulf/Arab Gulf” discussion? Actually, after such a long night on live television, I’m amazed either man is still standing. More tomorrow (assuming the debate has actually ended by then).

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Clinton & Saudis ‘explore’ Syria!

March 30th, 2012 Comments off
(AP) — “…. The U.S. is hoping to help unify the splintered opposition’s ranks while pushing for humanitarian aid and further isolation of Assad’s regime. Saudi Arabia, along with fellow Gulf nation Qatar, has called for a more aggressive approach, ….

International opponents of Assad are struggling to pin down a strategy on Syria as a peace plan put forward by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has so far failed to get off the ground. Syria has accepted the six-point plan,… Assad said Thursday that he wants the plan to succeed, but insisted that the opposition must first commit to a cease-fire as well….
“Clinton will hold extensive talks with Saudi counterparts on the situation in Syria and on American efforts to stop bloodbath in Syria,” a Saudi Foreign Ministry official in Riyadh said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he not authorized to discuss the talks.
The talks came a day after an Arab League summit in Baghdad, where divisions among Arab nations over Syria were clear. In a sign that they see little hope in diplomatic efforts from the League, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries sent only low-level officials to the summit. In the end, the summit issued a joint resolution that held little new beyond expressing support for Annan’s efforts…..
For the U.S. and its allies, Syria is proving an especially murky conflict and one with no easy solutions. Assad’s regime is of Washington’s clearest foes, a government that has long been closely allied with Iran and anti-Israel groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Gulf countries are eager to see Assad’s fall in hopes of breaking Syria out of its alliance with their regional rival, Shiite-majority Iran.
But the Syrian opposition is chronically fragmented. The Syrian National Council, a nominal opposition umbrella group based abroad, has limited authority on the ground. Syrian army defectors have set up a military leadership based in neighboring Turkey, but they too have only nominal command over the multiple armed rebel groups inside Syria. The U.S. has warned that al-Qaida and other Islamic militants are also taking advantage of the turmoil, attacking Assad’s regime and trying to gain a foothold inside Syria…..
Asked what might constitute success for Sunday’s Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Istanbul, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We want to focus on humanitarian aid ………”

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Syria clashes as Arab states meet

March 28th, 2012 Comments off

Fighting continues in Syria as the Arab League meets over the crisis, with the government in Damascus rejecting co-operation with its peace moves.
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Economic talks open Arab League meeting in Iraq

March 27th, 2012 Comments off

UAE Ambassador to Iraq Abdullah al-Shihy, right, attends the meeting of Arab economic, finance, and trade ministers as part of Arab League Summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Economic ministers from across the Arab world are looking at ways to develop tourism and ensure access to increasingly strapped water supplies in the region to boost economic stability in their countries. (AP Photo/Ali Haider, Pool)Drought and uprisings are threatening to undermine the Middle East’s economy, Arab officials said Tuesday as they discussed plans to boost the region’s stability at the start of a key summit in Baghdad.

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Is Iraq’s Arab League Summit being Overshadowed by Sectarian Violence?

March 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Iraq is planning to host the summit of the Arab League in Baghdad next week, in a bid to underscore its reemergence as an independent Arab state and an integral member of the League.

But, you couldn’t say things have gone well for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the run-up to the historic conference.

First, the Shiite clerical leader Muqtada al-Sadr staged a strike on Monday, and his supporters came out to demonstrate in the hundreds of thousands (they claimed a million) in the southern oil city of Basra. The date was March 19, the anniversary of the Bush administration’s invasion of their country, which they were in part protesting. But they were also demanding that al-Maliki supply people with services– electricity, water, etc. They had earlier demonstrated against the idea of the Sunni king of Bahrain coming to Baghdad, given his harsh crackdown on the majority Shiites of Bahrain. But Monday’s rallies focused on domestic issues. Sadr is taking advantage of Iraq being in the spotlight in order to press his demands.

Then on Tuesday we heard from the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq,” which is called “al-Qaeda” both by al-Maliki and by the US, when it set off a coordinated set of bombings that left 45 people dead. These Sunni radicals are not reconciled to the rise of a Shiite-dominated government, and they wanted to spoil the summit, perhaps derail it. They view most of the Arab leaders as tyrants and say they don’t want them in Iraq.

Aljazeera English has video

Al-Maliki had charged one of his vice presidents, a Sunni named Tariq al-Hashemi, of himselve being linked to terrorism, and chased him off to Iraqi Kurdistan. But his bodyguards were detained in Baghdad. One of them just died under suspicious circumestances, casting another pall over the summit. Many assume that the Shiite al-Maliki had the Sunni guards tortured.

Then, al-Maliki’s sudden support for the Allawite Shiite president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, is often attributed to his fear that Sunni fundamentalists might come to power there and make trouble in Sunni Iraq just across the border. The US believes that al-Maliki is allowing Iran to send arms to al-Assad and his Baath Party through Iraq, and is pressuring him to stop it.

So on the eve of a conference that was intended to emphasize the Arabness of Iraq and its reemergence onto the world stage, it is being roiled by sectarian demonstrations and bombings, embroiled in regional Sunni-Shiite strife, and slammed for still not being able to deliver basic services.

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Explosions across Iraq kill at least 43 – Reuters

March 20th, 2012 Comments off

Globe and Mail

Explosions across Iraq kill at least 43
| BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Car and roadside bombs killed at least 43 people in cities and towns across Iraq on Tuesday, police and hospital sources said, extending a spate of violence ahead of next week's Arab League summit in Baghdad.
Spate of bombings across Iraq on anniversary of US
Iraq Blasts Kill 19, Injure 119 Before Arab League SummitBloomberg
Death Toll In Attacks Across Iraq Rises To 38NPR
USA TODAY –Financial Times
all 515 news articles »

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Bahrain Demonstrations Echoed in Iraq on Eve of Arab League Meeting

March 10th, 2012 Comments off

Tens of thousands of demonstrators came out in villages and along highways in Bahrain on Friday, reviving their protest of the islands’ absolute monarchy. Among the organizers was the Shiite Wifaq Party, which says it wants a constitutional monarchy.

Opposition video is here:

Bahrain may have been two-thirds Shiite a few decades ago, but the Sunni monarchy has given thousands of Sunnis from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan citizenship. Nowadays, surveys show that about 58% of the population is Shiite. But this group feels that it is actively discriminated against in employment and other spheres. This majority also minds being politically marginalized, and wants changes in the constitution to reduce the perquisites of the king and to move the country toward popular sovereignty. Last year, the regime cracked down hard on protesters. But apparently they are still organized and have demands that cannot be forestalled by elite fiat.

The US has been timid about speaking out concerning human rights abuses in Bahrain because the monarchy leases to the US a naval base at Manama, which serves at the HQ of the Fifth Fleet. This fleet provides security to petroleum exports from the Gulf, which come to some 20% of the world total. Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy is also often seen in Washington and Riyadh as a bulwark against Iranian hegemony in the Gulf.

Bahrain has about 550,000 citizens and a similar number of guest workers. It is a minor petroleum exporter ( 150,000 barrels a day in 2011?), but is important mainly for strategic reasons and because of its vital finance sector.

Meanwhile the Shiite Sadr Movement in Iraq held demonstrations regarding Bahrain in several cities. The best-attended rallies were in Najaf and Amara, with thousands in attendance. In Wasit, Ali Sammar said that his group was answering the call of their leader, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, to stage peaceful demonstrations in support of the Bahrain revolution. He explained that their demands included a call to the UN Security Council and the Arab League to take a decisive position in favor of the Bahraini people and to punish the Bahraini government for violating the rights of its people.

The Sadrists are demanding that the king of Bahrain be excluded from the Arab League summit to be held shortly in Bahrain. The Iraqi government of PM Nouri al-Maliki has attempted to reassure Manama that the Sadrists do not speak for the whole of Iraq. Al-Maliki, though more diplomatic than Sadr, is nevertheless also upset about the crackdown on Baharain’s Shiite majority and the sending of Saudi troops into Bahrain.

Still, the Arab League summit in Baghdad is a coup for al-Maliki, and King Hamad Al Khalifah of Bahrain agrees that it is a signal opportunity to underscore Iraq’s return to the center of Arab affairs. Despite his disappointment in Bahrain policy toward its Shiites, al-Maliki is eager for regional recognition and acceptances, and unlikely to meet the Sadrists’ demand. He heads his own Shiite party, the Islamic Mission Party (al-Da’wa al-Islamiya), which is more lay and middle class than the Sadrists, who are disproportionately poor and more radical.

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Russia’s Not Completely Wrong About Syria

February 18th, 2012 Comments off
….  from almost the moment the protests in Syria began, Western leaders fell over themselves to tell Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he had nothing to fear, since military intervention was simply unthinkable no matter what he did. Western diplomats say that this was necessary in order to secure Chinese and Russian support at the United Nations. That is correct, but such assurances could have been provided discreetly, while the regime in Damascus was left to guess about NATO’s real intentions.

… Western leaders have painted themselves into a corner. They have misread the situation on two counts: firstly, they have assumed that the removal of al-Assad is critical towards ending the violence and issued ultimatums to that end. Secondly, they have also over-estimated the weakness of the Syrian regime and the willingness of the military to turn upon its leaders. The President of Syria is no Gaddafi – power is distributed more horizontally among the elite in Syria, and the President’s control over the security services is by no means absolute. The removal of al-Assad by itself would not solve much unless accompanied by a broader commitment to reform. Syrian military leaders have now gone too far to turn back. Moreover, they are not being defeated – on the contrary, defections have so far been minimal and they believe that they have groups such as the Syrian Free Army on the back foot.

Third, do not encourage regime change without any concept of how, and with what means, such a revolution might come about. The West should have learned this lesson after the slaughter of Iraqi Shia rebels who rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 – when the insurgents received nothing more than words of support despite expectations of financial aid and military equipment. Also, if political and economic sanctions are to be the exclusive means of weakening the Syrian regime, it is essential that neighbouring countries are on-side. Here the West has put too much faith in the Arab League. The Arab League may have become more vocal, supported by countries such as Saudi Arabia that have long resented Syria‘s ties with Iran, but it remains incapable of enforcing its resolutions.

The Syrian government knows that Arab League resolutions are toothless, and that they have supporters in key neighbouring Arab countries, notably Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad and leading figures in the Lebanese government. Iran is increasing its support while Turkey, after a brief period of sabre-rattling, has gone cool on the idea of military intervention. Damascus also knows that calls by the Qatari government for intervention by an Arab peacekeeping force will come to nothing.
Given the enduring strength and resistance of the Syrian regime, and the lack of any immediate military means to weaken it, it is disappointing that Western countries have all but cut off diplomatic contacts with Damascus. The West should re-start diplomatic dialogue with Syria without pre-conditions. The West should try to rein in efforts by Gulf countries to arm a range of insurgent groups, many of which are deeply mistrusted by important minority groups such as Syria’s Kurds and could do significant damage to the credibility of the opposition movement…. 

However, there are limits to the role Western diplomacy can play. Although the West can embark on a supportive dialogue, it is now impossible for the West to play a leading role as an intermediary in the conflict. A trusted interlocutor is urgently required to negotiate a credible transition in Syria. Such leadership cannot come from Europe, the United States, the Arab League, or Russia – none of whom are trusted by all sides. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been content to sit on the side-lines, choosing not to deploy his ‘good offices’ in the manner of his more courageous predecessors. It is time to appoint a UN Special Representative to engage with the regime and opposition alike. Even if his or her proposals are ultimately rejected by Moscow or Washington, some options are better than none.” 

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Arab League

February 13th, 2012 Comments off
I am not making this up.  The Arab League said today that it is opposed to foreign intervention in Syria but called for the formation of an Arab-International peace-keeping force in Syria.  

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