Thursday, November 23, 2017

Arab summit appears divided over approach to Syria

RECOMMENDED READING


BAGHDAD — Arab leaders gathering here today will call for Syria to implement a cease-fire, but there's little faith that President Bashar Assad will do anything to halt his crackdown on the year-old uprising.

That could set the stage for Arab nations, eager to see Assad's downfall, to take stronger action on their own.

Arab governments are divided over how strongly to intervene in bloodshed in Syria, and their divisions illustrate how the conflict has become a proxy in the region's wider rivalry — the one between Arabs and powerhouse Iran.

Sunni-led nations of the Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar — hoping to break Syria out of its alliance with Shiite Iran — are thought to be considering arming the Syrian rebels to fight back against Assad's forces. But other Arab nations are reluctant to openly call for that step yet.

Iraq, the host of the one-day Arab League summit, is in a particularly tight spot because its Shiite-led government has close ties to Iran, Assad's top ally.

Given the divisions, foreign ministers meeting here Wednesday laid out a middle ground for their leaders to issue at the summit. The draft resolution would reject foreign intervention in Syria while voicing support for the Syrian people's "legitimate aspirations to freedom and democracy." It would call on Assad to implement a cease-fire and allow humanitarian aid, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press.

It also supports the mission of joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who has put forward a peace plan to end the regime's crackdown that the U.N. estimates has killed more than 9,000 people since the uprising began in March 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.

Damascus has accepted Annan's plan, which includes a cease-fire. Violence has continued, however, with clashes between government forces and armed rebels. Syria's opposition is deeply skeptical that Assad will carry out the terms of Annan's plan.

The plan also calls on Damascus to immediately stop troop movements and the use of heavy weapons in populated areas and to commit to a daily two-hour halt in fighting to allow humanitarian access and medical evacuations.

Opposition members accuse Assad of agreeing to Annan's plan to stall for time as his troops make a renewed push to kill off bastions of dissent.

Comments
Russian dancer challenges centuries of ballet tradition

Russian dancer challenges centuries of ballet tradition

Diana Vishneva, an acclaimed dancer with a career on both sides of the Atlantic, is promoting contemporary dance in Russia with her annual festival which departs from the stiff academic tradition of Russian classical ballet
Updated: 2 minutes ago

Slain Maltese journalist's family wants top cop off probe

The family of a Maltese investigative journalist killed by a bomb blast is pressing to have a top police official removed from the murder probe
Updated: 5 minutes ago

French, Polish leaders start to mend strained ties

French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland's prime minister took a first, key step Thursday toward mending differences that are weighing on the whole European Union
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Lead poisoning deaths up in New Hampshire loons despite law

Despite having one of the toughest bans on lead fishing tackle, loons are still dying from ingesting weights and lures in New Hampshire
Updated: 7 minutes ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Sudan's president visits Russia, asks for protection from US

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says on a visit to Russia that his country needs protection from the U.S.
Updated: 14 minutes ago
N.C. State stuns No. 2 Arizona 90-84 in Battle 4 Atlantis

N.C. State stuns No. 2 Arizona 90-84 in Battle 4 Atlantis

Freshman Braxton Beverly scored a season-high 20 points and sparked the decisive late run that helped North Carolina State upset No. 2 Arizona 90-84 in the first round at the Battle 4 Atlantis
Updated: 17 minutes ago

US Marshals: Scammers pose as law enforcement officials

The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public about scams by individuals claiming to be marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Stakes higher than usual for USF-UCF rivalry matchup

When No. 13-UCF and No. 22 South Florida tangle in their annual rivalry game, it's always an emotion-filled grudge match
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Ukrainian separatist chief accuses another of plotting coup

Ukrainian separatist chief accuses another of plotting coup

A separatist leader in Ukraine's east has accused a former official of trying to unseat him
Updated: 25 minutes ago