Moscow blocks Arab League’s plan for Syria
MOSCOW / DAMASCUS
An anti-Syrian regime man reacts in front of flames which rise from a burning shop damaged by Syrian government forces shelling, in Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs.Russia said violence should end before any peacekeeping mission takes place in Syria while the EU backed an Arab League call for a U.N. mission and urged the U.N. Security Council to act in order to stop the violence there.
Britain called for urgent international talks on the Arab League proposal but cautioned that Western nations were unlikely to contribute to the force.
“I don’t see the way forward in Syria as being Western boots on the ground, in any form, including in peacekeeping form,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said. He added that success depended on a “credible ceasefire” being established and an end to President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on civilians. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated Russia’s stance that international pressure to end nearly a year of bloodshed in Syria should focus on the Syrian opposition as well as the government.
China backs Arab League mediation
“We are studying this initiative, and we are counting on our friends in the Arab League to offer us clarification on some of its clauses,” Lavrov told a news conference yesterday after meeting United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Moscow. “In order to deploy a peacekeeping mission, you need the agreement of the receiving side,” Lavrov said.
“In other words, you need to agree on something resembling a ceasefire.” Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry backed Arab League mediation in Syria yesterday but offered no clear sign of support for its call to send in peacekeepers. The European Union also supported the peacekeeping decision of the Arab League. Yesterday, Germany and Italy also welcomed the Arab League’s “important” role in helping end the violence in Syria.
Damascus’ ambassador to Cairo Yusef Ahmed denounced the Arab League moves, saying the Arab League’s decision “reflects the hysteria of these governments” after failing to get foreign intervention at the U.N. Security Council.
Warning from SNC
A Syrian official said Syria was determined to “restore security” regardless of the latest Arab League initiatives to end bloodshed, SANA state news agency reported. “This decision will not prevent the Syrian government from fulfilling its responsibilities in protecting its citizens and restoring security and stability,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying. These remarks came as Syrian troops pounded the protest hub of Homs yesterday, activists said. Within hours of an Arab League statement, Syria’s Army resumed its shelling of Baba Amr, a rebel bastion in the central city of Homs, while ground forces swept through the southern Daraa region arresting dissidents, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Burhan Ghalioun, has said Syria is on the threshold of a big clash between the al-Assad administration and the Free Syrian Army. However, the Free Syrian Army has limited means to protect civilians in the struggle against the Syrian regular army, said Ghalioun yesterday. Noting that they welcomed the decision of the Arab League, he said the decision was an important step against the al-Assad administration.
Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.