The Middle East Channel

Gulf countries quit Arab League Syria mission

Gulf countries quit Arab League Syria mission The six Gulf countries have decided to withdraw their monitors from the Arab League observer mission in Syria following Saudi Arabia’s lead. In a statement from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the group said the decision came because of the mission’s inability to halt violence and Syria’s failure ...

Gulf countries quit Arab League Syria mission

The six Gulf countries have decided to withdraw their monitors from the Arab League observer mission in Syria following Saudi Arabia’s lead. In a statement from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the group said the decision came because of the mission’s inability to halt violence and Syria’s failure to comply with the Arab League peace plan agreed to in November. According to the statement, the GCC was “certain the bloodshed and killing of innocents would continue, and that the Syrian regime would not abide by the Arab League’s resolution.” The decision came after the Arab League recommended the mission be extended by a month when the official mandate ended last week, and after a demand by the group for President Bashar al-Assad to step down was met with condemnation by the Syrian regime. Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Muallem responded to the proposal saying the Arab League was “implementing the conspiracy they have agreed to abroad against Syria.” The GCC made an appeal to the U.N. Security Council to pressure Syria to execute the Arab initiative. The withdrawal of the GCC states will force the Arab League to consider ending the entire mission, a discussion the group will have in a meeting today.

Headlines  

  • A series of car bombs killed 14 people and injured over 70 in mainly Shiite districts of Baghdad amid increasing sectarian tensions a month after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
  • Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, threatened sanctions on France after the senate passed legislation that would declare it illegal to deny the Armenian “genocide.”
  • Israel arrested two Hamas MPs in the East Jerusalem Red Cross compound where officials say they are protected by international humanitarian law from being deported.
  • After violent clashes, pro-Qaddafi forces have retaken the town of Bani Walid, one of the last former regime strongholds to fall to the ruling National Transitional Council.
  • In the first parliamentary session since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood struggled against challenges to its speaker appointment.
  • Khaled Meshaal, the political head of Hamas, will visit Jordan 12 years after his expulsion from there in efforts to improve relations and cooperation.

Daily Snapshot

An Egyptian protester wears a mask of Ahmed Harara, who lost his two eyes during the revolution, while people chant slogans against the ruling military council and the government outside the Egyptian parliament in Cairo on January 23, 2012 as the body meets for the first time since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections, which were held in phases between November and early January, saw Islamists clinch nearly three-quarters of the seats (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

‘How the Arab League can save Syria’ (Kate Seelye, The National Interest)

“It is now incumbent upon the Arab League to officially terminate the mission and refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The league brought much credit to itself last spring when it voted to support international military intervention to protect Libyan civilians, and its suspension of Syria raised hopes that the organization was finally acting in the interests of Arab people rather than an amorphous Arab unity. It should not squander its newly won credibility by continuing the charade of an impotent observer mission. Any draft resolution introduced by the Arab League in the Security Council must, of course, attract the support of China and, most crucially, Russia. Moscow’s tacit or outright backing is key to creating an effective, united international front against Damascus. Without it, Syria is likelier to descend into full-blown civil war, a scenario that all involved would like to avoid.”

‘Is there still hope for a democratic Egypt?’ (Wael Ghonim, Time)

“It’s still possible for Egypt to elect a president on April 1, less than four months from now, if the presidential campaigns commence immediately after completion of Shura (advisory) council elections on Feb. 22. But it is increasingly unlikely, and many people are tempted to accept the Military Council’s proposal to oversee a new constitution first. Some might hope that that process could be done so quickly that we could still achieve a democratic government by April…Egypt needs to immediately hand over authority to a democratically selected body, elected by all of its people. This is the issue that I — as an Egyptian who strives for a better Egypt and the preservation of the integrity of our military – believe to be our most significant task. I hope that the elected parliamentarians – the legitimate representatives of the people — play a prominent role in achieving this. The longer our transitional period drags on, the more we will be exposed to further economic and political problems and controversy.”

‘The seventy percent’ (Bassem Sabry, The Cairo Review for Int’l Affairs)

“Egypt is moving forward, and everyone knew that Islamists were going to politically dominate these elections, even deservingly so. It is time for the critics to stop haranguing Egyptians for voting the way they did, realize that their vote was only a logical and expected result of all conditions considered, and instead focus on the core of what the democratic process is all about: how the wider array of Egyptian political parties can learn to positively and constructively better compete for the votes and betterment of the lives of Egyptians.”

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