A man fixes electricity wiring outside an appartment building in the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on February 13, 2012, following fierce clashes between Lebanese Sunni Muslims hostile to Syria’s regime and Alawites who support it (DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images).
New Arab League proposal calls for peacekeeping mission in Syria
The Arab League officially ended its monitoring mission in Syria and on Sunday requested that the U.N. Security Council design a joint U.N. peacekeeping mission. The Arab League agreed to the proposal in an emergency meeting in Cairo, which also called for the end to all diplomatic relations with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and increased economic sanctions. While the proposal fell short of recognizing the Syrian National Council, it called for opening "communication channels with the Syrian opposition and providing all forms of political and material support to it. Russia, after having vetoed a recent U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, said it will consider the Arab League proposal, though Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there must be a negotiated ceasefire before it will agree to a peacekeeping force. He maintained that "we need wide inter-Syrian dialogue and cooperation to find a solution or decisions which will meet the interest of all Syrians and which will rule out interference from outside." The Syrian regime immediately rejected the proposal, refusing foreign intervention. Meanwhile, the government assault on Homs has continued for the 10th day over the course of which human rights groups have reported that more than 500 people have died.
- An Israeli diplomat was injured by a car bomb in New Delhi as Israelis were also threatened in Georgia and Amsterdam a day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of a Hezbollah leader.
- Turkish jets bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Meanwhile, police raided Kurdish Communities Union headquarters throughout Turkey.
- A preliminary report by the Egyptian parliament of an inquiry into the 74 deaths that came out of football riots at Port Said stadium found both fans and negligent security at fault.
- Bahraini youth activists and security forces clashed prior to the one-year anniversary of Bahrain’s uprising.
- Iraq’s government decided it will not allow Exxon Mobil to participate in the fourth oil and gas bidding round due to a contract the company signed with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
- The Histadrut Labor Federation ended its general strike in Israel that began Wednesday after reaching a deal with the Israeli Finance Ministry improving conditions for nonunionized contract workers.
Arguments & Analysis
‘Syria: yes to intervention, but de-escalate the broader conflict’ (Mary Kaldor, Open Democracy)
"The events in Syria take place at the intersection of two contravening dynamics. On the one hand, the Arab Spring is sweeping away decades-old authoritarian regimes and threatening to upend the geopolitical status quo far beyond the region. It is creating unfamiliar and uncomfortable uncertainties from Moscow to Washington and from Bejing to Tel Aviv. On the other hand, the escalating confrontation with Iran over its quest to acquire nuclear weapons appears to be a classic case of old geopolitics."
‘Blame, responsibility, and how we talk about Syria’ (Jillian C. York, The Atlantic)
"But on the question of intervention itself, I am less forthright. With Libya, I kept my mouth firmly shut, choosing to support Libyans in their opposition to madman Qaddafi but stopping short of supporting intervention. With Syria, with loved ones in Damascus, Aleppo, and Swaida, it’s much more difficult to remain ambivalent. I know that there are less-than-honest actors involved, and I know that intervention could make things worse. I also know that whether the widely publicized number of 5,000 or a more modest one of 3,000 or so deaths is accurate, even one death at the hands of a government is too many. Which is only to say that I don’t know what to think. I ask my Syrian friends regularly, and find that most are reluctant in their conclusions, whatever they may be."
‘Friends disappear as vengeance still stalks across Libya’ (Mustafa Fetouri, The National)
"On at least three occasions, the interim government has called on militias to leave the city with no result. Tripoli’s airport is under the control of Zintan militia, which staged a show last October when Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council, cut the inaugural ribbon symbolising the airport’s "new opening". The militia is still in control. The western-backed NTC and its interim government have failed to work on the long-pledged national reconciliation conference, which could begin to deal with the failings of the judiciary. In a tribal society such as Libya, there will be no justice without national reconciliation and any trials taking place now will always be questioned."
–Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey