Arab Summit Accuses Syria of Crimes Against Humanity, Urges Regime-Opposition Talks

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  • W460
  • W460

Arab leaders urged dialogue and an end to Syria's bloody crackdown on dissent at a landmark summit in Baghdad on Thursday, while Iraq's premier warned that arming rival camps would spark a "proxy war."

Regional leaders approved a resolution calling for an end to the government's crackdown, for the opposition to unite and for parties to the conflict to launch a "serious national dialogue."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's remarks at the summit highlighted the split in the Arab League.

While hardliners Qatar and Saudi Arabia have called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and for rebels opposing his regime to be supplied with weapons, others including Iraq have been pushing for a political reconciliation.

Gulf states, apart from Kuwait, largely snubbed the summit, with Riyadh and Doha only sending envoys to the first Arab meet to be held in the Iraqi capital in more than 20 years.

Nine visiting leaders attended the summit of the 22-member Arab League, along with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. Syria, which has been suspended from the pan-Arab body, was not invited.

"Based on our experience in Iraq, the option to arm either side of the conflict will lead to a regional and international proxy war in Syria," Maliki warned in his speech to Arab leaders.

"This option will prepare the ground for foreign military intervention in Syria and so infringe on the sovereignty of a brotherly Arab country," he said.

Even as the summit was taking place, Syrian security forces assailed rebel strongholds across the country, a day after Assad's regime said it would not abide by any Arab League initiatives.

While regional officials wanted to tackle a wide variety of issues, ranging from the Arab-Israeli conflict to jumpstarting the bloc's economies, the summit was firmly focused on the crisis that has cost thousands of lives in Syria.

In his speech, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called for Syrian authorities to implement U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan and for an end to the year-long violence ravaging the country.

"It is essential that President Assad put those commitments into immediate effect. The world is waiting for commitments to be translated into action. The key here is implementation. There is no time to waste," he said.

Annan's plan includes a commitment to stop all violence, daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefires and media access to all areas affected by the fighting. State news agency SANA said on Thursday that Assad had agreed to the plan.

"The acceptance means that there may be a sign of hope, and the Syrian government has to immediately and fully implement the points presented by Mr. Kofi Annan," Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said at a closing news conference.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, however, told the summit that Damascus was only aiming to prolong the conflict so the regime could "negotiate ... from a position of strength."

"There is no solution except for the president to step down," he said.

A resolution approved by the leaders called on the "Syrian government and all opposition factions to deal positively with the envoy (Annan) by starting serious national dialogue."

It also called on the Syrian opposition "to unify its ranks and prepare ... to enter into serious dialogue" with the regime, while also saying that "the Syrian government should immediately stop all actions of violence and killing."

And it said "the massacre committed by the Syrian military and security forces against civilians in Baba Amr ... can be considered crimes (against) humanity," referring to a district of the flashpoint city of Homs in central Syria.

Iraq deployed 100,000 security forces in an effort to prevent attacks on the summit, and officials closed down swathes of roads and mobile networks and shut down the country's airspace.

Last week, al-Qaida-claimed attacks nationwide killed 50 people, including three in a car bombing opposite the foreign ministry.

Despite razor-tight security measures for the summit that in effect shut down Baghdad, a mortar round struck near the Iranian embassy on the outskirts of the heavily-fortified Green Zone where the summit was held, police said.

They said the blast did not cause casualties but damaged the embassy.

Comments 4
Missing realist 29 March 2012, 21:39

How can any people talk with a regime committing "crimes against humanity" against the people themselves?, what a pathetic bad joke. Anyway, everyone knows that the Annan project is just another failed chapter in this long drama, as if the regime can stop the killings and allow peaceful demonstrations after 1 year of killings to terrorize and stop the demonstrations!, does anyone really believe this maze of circular logic?. My guess is that Russia will support whatever bs the regime uses to kill the Anan plan and resume the atrocities. We also need to remember that the russians are not very successful in propping up unpopular criminal dictators: the afghanistan example is readily available, the president there was ultimaltey hanged after 10 years of revolution. I also find it pretty disgusting how Al-basheer, himself a pioneer in atrocities, is sitting in the middle of the picture like he runs the show.

Default-user-icon sam (Guest) 29 March 2012, 23:02

This is exactly what they do : they wanted a civil war, the Syrians are too united around their leader. so they had to give the al qaida mercenaries from Lybia to make the mess the civilians didn't make.
They just want to overthrow a regime who isn't in the side of their interests.
They use all their power... arms, mercenaries, mass-medias-propaganda to make you think that they have the right to do what they do there. But they are just butchers looking to be the only pole on earth. The new world order they say... God bless the Resistance. God bless Syria, People, army and regime.
Don't let anyone lie to you, see the truth of SYRIA yourself !
Your war-propaganda-medias don't let you see these things! Enjoy!

Missing helicopter 30 March 2012, 08:06

It is embarrassing to be an Arab. Only region that moves steadily backward.

Default-user-icon Wooshy Mifardo (Guest) 30 March 2012, 10:58

Arab who? Just look at them pose. Each and every one of them deserves to be stoned to death for committing political prostitution.