Arab League expects action, not words at Syria meeting

CAIRO Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:09pm EDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of the Arab League said on Thursday he expected a meeting of the five big powers in Geneva later this month to produce "practical mechanisms", not words, to resolve the conflict in Syria.

Describing the situation in Syria as a tragedy, Nabil Elaraby said he was hopeful that the June 30 conference would result in action to deal with the crisis.

"It will include the big five states which have never met together on this issue before. This is very important, because this is the key," Elaraby said speaking to reporters at the League's headquarters in Cairo.

"The second point is that the preparations that are under way now are producing practical mechanisms," he said. He declined to give any further details.

International efforts to halt the violence are deadlocked because Russia and China, which hold veto power in the U.N. Security Council, have blocked tougher measures against Assad, their strategic regional ally.

They say the solution must come through political dialogue, an approach that most of the Syrian opposition rejects. An uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule in Syria that erupted 15 months ago has turned into an armed conflict between his security forces and armed rebels.

The League's deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli urged Russia on Thursday to halt arms sales to Syria and said that U.N. sanctions could be needed to force Assad and the rebels to implement a failing peace plan. Helli was heading an Arab League delegation to Moscow to hold talks about Syria.

The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have been killed by government forces during the conflict, while Syria says at least 2,600 members of the military and security forces have been killed by what it calls foreign-backed "Islamist terrorists".

But a peace plan proposed by international envoy and Nobel Peace laureate Kofi Annan has all but collapsed and the West is unwilling to intervene militarily, as it did in Libya last year to seal the fate of Muammar Gaddafi.

Elaraby met with the 16 representatives of the Syrian opposition earlier on Thursday and said there was agreement on a broader meeting of the opposition on July 2 or 3, but that the date may be pushed back. "They all spoke of their vision and hope for the future," he said.

The Syrian opposition has been weakened by power struggles pitting Islamists against secular politicians and exiled leaders against activists at home. [ID:nL5E8GM3R1] Elaraby said there had been progress towards "harmony".

(Reporting by Ayman Samir and Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Comments (3)
ccharles wrote:
How about they quit arming the rebels for a start

Jun 21, 2012 2:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Powerpeace wrote:
This is one of the most complicated times in World History. Most of the Western World would prefer to end all conventional warfare. We are really not sure what Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, and Russia want. I can not help but notice that this appears to be an updated version of the Axis of WWII. Dictatorial Power at it’s finest. The Middle East & Africa are caught in the middle and describing what is a dictator varies according to whatever status quo you ask. To the working class it is easier to define dictators. They are the ones that make more while the working class makes less.

Jun 21, 2012 2:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fromkin wrote:
What kind of authority Arab League has on Syria?

Syria has been suspended by the AL. So there is no relationship between Syria, a sovereign state, and the League, a simple volontary association.

So this is just western states hidding behind the useless league.

Jun 21, 2012 7:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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