x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Peace proposal for Syria

Arab League seeks to end violence as Nato rules out intervention.

Demonstrators stage a protest against the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad in Homs on Sunday.
Demonstrators stage a protest against the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad in Homs on Sunday.

DOHA // The Arab League yesterday revealed that its proposed road map to end violence in Syria includes the withdrawal of tanks from Syrian streets as well as talks in Cairo between the regime and its opponents.

Arab foreign ministers put the proposals to a Syrian delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during talks in Doha on Sunday and were now waiting for a response, said Arab League chief Nabil Al Arabi.

The talks come amid growing fears among regional leaders that unchecked Syrian bloodshed could further inflame the Arab world, and as Nato categorically ruled out a Libya-style intervention in Syria.

"The Arab proposal to Syria calls for withdrawing tanks and all military vehicles to bring an immediate end to the violence and give assurances to the Syrian street," said Mr Al Arabi.

The peace plan also calls for dialogue to take place in Cairo between Syrian regime officials and opposition figures, he added, before leaving Doha without indicating if a response had been received from the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

Meanwhile, the Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who arrived in Tripoli yesterday to mark the end of the alliance's air war in Libya, ruled out the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria.

"It's totally ruled out," said Mr Rasmussen.

"We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria," he insisted, saying the conditions there were different to those in Libya.

"First of all we took on the responsibility for the operation in Libya because there was a clear UN mandate, because we had strong and active support from the countries in the region," Mr Rasmussen said.

The region is reeling from uprisings that have since January unseated three long-time dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Repeating previous warnings, the Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani told reporters that Mr Al Assad risked forcing an international intervention if he allowed the violence to continue.

"The entire region is at risk of a massive storm," Sheikh Hamad told reporters after Sunday's three-hour meeting.

Mr Al Assad must take "concrete steps" to end the violence that according to the United Nations has claimed more than 3,000 Syrian lives since March, he said.

Sunday's Arab ministerial meeting "agreed on a serious proposal to stop the killing and all forms of violence in Syria", Sheikh Hamad said.

A follow-up meeting will be held on Wednesday in Cairo "whether or not there is an agreement", he added.

Mr Al Assad warned in a newspaper interview that any Western intervention in Syria would cause an "earthquake" across the Middle East.