Special Correspondent, Middle East
Alistair's Feed
Jan 25, 2012

Arab monitor mission to Syria limps on amid rifts

BEIRUT (Reuters) – An Arab observer mission will limp on in Syria after a Gulf pullout led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar but the two have also engineered an unprecedented Arab League call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday also asked the U.N. Security Council to endorse their Syria plan, which Damascus has rejected as blatant interference in its affairs.

Jan 25, 2012

Arab League turns to U.N. as Gulf observers quit Syria

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Gulf Arab states withdrew their observers from Syria on Tuesday after it rejected an Arab League plan for President Bashar al-Assad to surrender power, prompting the group’s chief to call for U.N. help in ending Syria’s bloody upheaval.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem accused the League of plotting to engineer foreign intervention. Thousands of civilians and members of security forces have been killed in the 10-month-old uprising against Assad.

Jan 24, 2012

Gulf Arabs quit Syria monitoring mission

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Gulf allies joined it on Tuesday in pulling out of an Arab League monitoring team to Syria, further damaging the credibility of a mission whose presence has not halted more than 10 months of violence.

Syria risks becoming an Arab and international pariah for its harsh response to an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in which thousands of people have been killed.

Jan 24, 2012

Syria denounces Arab League for telling Assad to quit

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria on Monday rebuffed as a “conspiracy” an Arab League call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down in favor of a unity government to calm a 10-month-old revolt in which thousands of Syrians have been killed.

But a day after Arab ministers urged Assad to step aside, a senior Russian lawmaker said that Moscow could do little more to support the 46-year-old leader, opening the door to a policy shift by one of Syria’s few remaining powerful allies.

Jan 23, 2012

Syria denounces Arabs for telling Assad to quit

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria on Monday rebuffed an Arab League call for President Bashar al-Assad step down in favor of a unity government as interference in its affairs, underlining its determination to defeat a 10-month-old uprising seeking Assad’s overthrow.

It was not immediately clear whether Syria would accept the League’s decision to keep Arab observers in the country for another month despite their failure to stem bloodshed in which hundreds of people have died since they deployed on December 26.

Jan 21, 2012

Syria blasts kill 14

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Bomb blasts killed 14 prisoners travelling in a security vehicle in northwest Syria on Saturday, the state news agency said, and troops fought rebels elsewhere as the Arab League weighed whether to keep monitors in place.

Syria’s SANA agency said a “terrorist” group had set off two explosions that also wounded 26 prisoners, as well as six police guards. It said the assailants had also attacked ambulances sent to the scene, on the road between the towns of Idlib and Ariha.

Jan 21, 2012

Arab monitors may stay in Syria despite bloodshed

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Arab League looks set to keep monitors in Syria, given the lack of any Arab or world consensus on how to halt bloodshed in a 10-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomatic source said.

Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi, head of the 165-strong monitoring team, was due in Cairo on Saturday to submit his report for a League committee on Syria to consider the next day.

Jan 20, 2012

Syria killings persist as Arab monitors’ mandate expires

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian forces have retreated from a rebel-held town under a local ceasefire, residents said, but deadly violence raged on elsewhere as a month-long mandate for Arab League peace monitors in Syria was expiring.

The head of the monitoring team was still working on his report and would not arrive at the League’s Cairo headquarters until Saturday, the day before Arab foreign ministers are due to weigh their next move on Syria, a League source said.

Jan 19, 2012

Syria conflict persists as Arab monitors’ mandate expires

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian forces have pulled back from a rebel-held town near Lebanon under a local truce deal, residents said on Thursday, but there was no sign of an overall halt to violence as a month-long mandate for Arab peace monitors in Syria expired.

Bloodshed is reported to have cost 600 lives since the observers began work, a period in which an armed insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad has increasingly eclipsed civilian unrest over his autocratic rule.

Jan 19, 2012

UK urges tougher Syria sanctions, Russia issues warning

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Britain called on Wednesday for harsher sanctions on Syria, where an Arab monitoring mission has failed to halt bloodshed in a 10-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

But Russia underlined divisions at the United Nations, saying it would work with China to prevent the Security Council from approving any military intervention in Syria.

    • About Alistair

      "I cover the Middle East, with an emphasis on political analysis, region-wide stories and in-depth features. I live in Beirut and have been in my current post since June 2006. Outside my main Middle Eastern beat, I have covered Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan."
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