Arab League hopeful over Syria road map

Arab League hopeful over Syria road map

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Arab League hopeful over Syria road map

Arab League Secretary General al-Arabi (L) arrives in Doha. AFP photo

The Arab League is close to signing a road map with Syria that could end the turmoil in the country, an official from the regional bloc has said, adding that the union could also lift sanctions against Damascus if it agrees to the deal.

“Syria is close to signing the agreement soon,” Mohammed Ibrahim al-Tuwaijri, the assistant secretary-general for economic affairs at the Arab League, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday on the sidelines of the Turkey Arab Industrial Cooperation Conference in Istanbul.

“There are some positive feelings from Syrian government that they are willing to sign the protocol and put an end to all the unrest in the country,” said Tuwaijri, adding that the league “might consider” dropping sanctions if Damascus signs the protocol.

The league’s deadline for Syria to respond to its demand to admit observers or face additional sanctions expired at midnight on Dec. 6. “We hope that there will be no foreign intervention in Syria” and that it will stabilize, Tuwaijri said.

Damascus is currently negotiating with the Arab League for the suspension of the sanctions against the country in return for allowing international observers into Syria, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported yesterday.

“We have some positive results from the talks between Syrian officials and foreign ministers of Arab states,” said Tuwaijri, adding that stability and security in the country could soon be re-established via the league.

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad might still remain in power by signing the protocol and implementing reforms, Tuwaijri said. “They would probably implement the reforms within the government.”
High-ranking figures in the league, however, seemed to contradict Tuwaijri’s words. “The response will not lead to suspending Arab sanctions on Syria,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi was quoted as saying by Al Arabiya News.

Tuwaijri said talks between the league members’ foreign ministers and Syrian officials were still continuing yesterday afternoon.

Possible common market

Tuwaijri also said Arab states were working on establishing a common market by 2020 that could include Turkey.

The official also said Turkey was playing a key role in the current talks with Syria.

On Dec. 3, the league imposed a raft of sanctions on Syria, including measure to freeze the assets of 19 Syrian officials, ban their travel and reduce flights to Syria if Damascus refuses to admit international monitors, release political prisoners and end its crackdown on protesters.

Ankara has also implemented sanctions against Syria, including measures to freeze state assets, suspend ties with its Central Bank and ban all military sales to the country.