Arab League calls on UN for joint mission in Syria

Arab League calls on UN for joint mission in Syria

Arab League calls on UN for joint mission in Syria

Arab FMs meet in Cairo to decide further ‘Syria’ steps as Turkish FM says Turkey will lodge a formal request at UN. AFP photo

Arab states considered ending an Arab observer mission to Syria and calling for a joint U.N.-Arab peacekeeping mission in Syria to end violence there, according to a draft resolution discussed by the Arab League states’ foreign ministers late yesterday in Cairo.

They will also call for tighter implementation of economic sanctions on Damascus that Arabs imposed late last year, according to the draft, Reuters reported.

The draft called for a halt to “all forms of diplomatic cooperation” with Syria. Arab foreign ministers also expected to agree to start talks with the Syrian opposition, according to the draft. Arab diplomats want to “open channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and offer full political and financial support, urging [the opposition] to unify its ranks,” according to the draft, Agence France-Presse reported. They will announce the “end of the Arab League observer mission” and call on Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi to “name an envoy to monitor the political situation.” An Arab League official meanwhile revealed yesterday the head of the controversial mission, Gen. Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi, had resigned. The Arab ministers will call for a “halt to all kinds of diplomatic cooperation with representatives of the Syrian regime in all states and organizations and international conferences,” but will leave it to each country to implement that decision.

‘Humanitarian operation’
The draft resolution came as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Feb. 11 Turkey would lodge a formal request with the United Nations for a humanitarian operation to help Syrians suffering “humanitarian tragedy” in their country. “I gave instructions today to lodge a request with the U.N. 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.” 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).

Meeting in Tunis on Feb 24
The League would welcome a call from Tunisia to hold a meeting on Syria in Tunis on Feb. 24, according to the draft. In the draft, they also stress “the implementation of economic sanctions and an end to commercial transactions with the Syrian regime, except in what concerns the Syrian people directly.” As the Arab League ministers continued their meeting late yesterday, the opposition-held district of Homs city experienced another day of sporadic rocket and gunfire from Syrian forces yesterday. The activist group 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 activists cited doctors at hospitals as saying at least 31 people had been killed in Homs Feb. 11.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has warned Davutoğlu to not lead Turkish intervention in Syria, even on humanitarian grounds. “The U.S. will pressure Turkey to take action on Syria. Davutoğlu must firmly reject that. Nothing can justify Turkey’s intervention in a neighboring country, not even humanitarian concerns,” CHP Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu said.