Arab League brings Syria more isolation
ISTANBUL - CAIRO
AFP photoTurkey plans to lodge a formal request with the United Nations for a humanitarian operation to help Syrians suffering a “humanitarian tragedy” in their country, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Feb. 11. Meanwhile the Arab League was considering a proposal to expand its suspended observer mission to include monitors from non-Arab Muslim nations, and the U.N.
“I gave instructions today to lodge a request with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva on the subject of humanitarian aid,” Anatolia News Agency quoted Davutoğlu as saying during a visit to Washington. “Turkey is launching an initiative at the U.N. office in Geneva to put in place a flow of humanitarian aid towards Syria,” he said. As the OHCHR does not have a humanitarian remit, the initiative would likely be taken up by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The opposition-held district of Homs city experienced another day of sporadic rocket and gunfire from Syrian government attacks yesterday. The activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people had been killed in Baba Amro yesterday morning, with at least 34 rockets raining down on the neighborhood. The opposition Local Coordination Committees cited doctors at makeshift hospitals as saying at least 31 people had been killed in Homs Feb. 11.
At the same time, the Arab League was discussing a proposal by the “Syria Group,” made up of seven member states led by Qatar, according to officials. The group would make recommendations to an Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting, scheduled for later yesterday in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Last month the League pulled out its observer mission to Syria, and an Arab League official revealed yesterday that the head of the controversial mission had resigned. The group’s chief, Nabil Elaraby, has accepted the resignation of Gen. Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi, the former Sudanese military intelligence chief, and nominated former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah al-Khatib as the new envoy.
In the meantime, the Syrian National Council (SNC) said Arab recognition of the opposition umbrella group was imminent. In the Qatari capital Doha, the SNC’s Ahmed Ramadan said the group had “confirmations of an Arab recognition that will soon take place, though not necessarily on Sunday.”
Speaking of Turkey’s plans to lodge a request for a humanitarian operation, Ahmet Davutoğlu said Ankara would “bring the issue to the attention of the OHCHR” as well as other U.N. bodies specializing in humanitarian aid such as OCHA, which is also based in Geneva. “We will step up our initiatives both to bring the subject before the General Assembly [...] and to bring humanitarian aid to our Syrian brothers in the framework of the OHCHR,” he said.
Davutoğlu, who is currently on a diplomatic visit in the United States, spoke to United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon by phone Feb. 11 and discussed developments in Syria. Davutoğlu also spoke to his Italian counterpart and the secretary general of the Arab League by phone Feb. 10.
In a separate development, Saudi Arabia denied reports in Saudi media that it had formally presented a new resolution on Syria to the U.N. General Assembly, Saudi state news agency SPA cited an official at the foreign ministry as saying yesterday. “No provision of any draft resolution on behalf of the Kingdom has been presented to the General Assembly,” the official told SPA.
Compiled from AFP, AA and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.