Gulf states sideline Arab League in Syria talks


The meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled to be held in the Saudi city of Jeddah over the Syrian crisis has been postponed indefinitely without explanation by the Arab League. This “emergency meeting” was to discuss the conflict and the replacement of the UN and international mediator Kofi Annan, who resigned last week after the failure of his peace efforts. The Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi was tipped to succeed him .

However, the foreign ministers of the six Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain) held last night in Jeddah a meeting about the Syrian crisis. Now, this session is expected to take place Tuesday during an Islamic summit in the kingdom following the initiative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who seeks to mobilize the Muslim world in favor of the uprising in Syria.

Syria, a member of the OIC, “will not be represented at this summit,” according to Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization Islamic Cooperation (OIC), adding that a preparatory meeting of Foreign Ministers would be held Monday and should “decide on a suspension of Syria, recommended by representatives of member countries. ” The organization of this summit, which promises very sharp clashes between Iran, unwavering supporter of Syria, and the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, comes as the UN could not take a firm stand on this issue after the differences arising among members of the Security Council.

It would seem that those parties who declined Iran’s invitation to last Thursday’s “Friends of Syria” summit in Tehran have been forced by that event to step up their own efforts.

Leaders of the Gulf Arab States pose for a photo before the opening session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh May 10, 2011. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)

Four days after launching its ground offensive to cleanse the rebels from Aleppo, tanks and warplanes of the regime of Bashar al-Assad continue to pound several districts of this metropolis in the North of the country. According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), the neighborhoods Shaar, Tariq al-Bab, Hanano, Bustan al-Qasr and Salaheddin are the target of violent firing of artillery by the army.

Shots were also heard in Damascus while the nearby towns of Al-Tal and Harsata were bombed, according to the SOHR.

In Homs, soldiers assisted by militiamen “executed” ten young people in the Shams neighborhood, according to the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition. The victims were selected from a crowd of 350 people gathered in one place, said SNC.

Clashes took place elsewhere in the province of Deraa (south), birthplace of the insurgency launched in March 2011 against the Assad regime.

In Beirut, a judicial source said that the Syrian security chief, General Ali Mamluk, is suspected of plotting attacks in Lebanon. Last week, the former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha was arrested . Samaha is a pro-Syrian figure.

Some content via Al Bawaba


#Iran Regime Lied about Hostage Workers Being Released in #Syria



It turns out that the workers reportedly taken hostage in Syria months ago were not released last week after all. Iran’s scumbag regime was just telling convenient lies to set the scene for Kofi Annan’s visit. Why anyone takes Press TV announcements seriously is a mystery. Read the logo, people – we don’t call it O-Press TV for nothing!

Soruce in Farsi:

Syria Death Toll Mounting Daily, Refugees in Crisis


Total deaths,
by governorates,
March 2011 through
March 25, 2012

The city of Homs, known as the capital of the revolution, was one of the first to join the uprisings against the Syrian government. With nearly 3,500 people killed, the city and its suburbs have been hit hardest by the government’s brutal crackdown. On March 1, after nearly a month of shelling by government forces, rebel fighters fled the Baba Amr district of Homs. Syrian military forces continue to bombard the city and its surrounding neighborhoods.

deaths on Syria map

Diplomatic steps

What other countries and outside groups have done to try to end the violence.

May 23 European Union imposes sanctions on Assad and other senior officials.
Aug. 18 The United States, Canada, France, Germany and United Kingdom call for Assad to step down. A U.N. report says the Syrian government may have committed crimes against humanity.
Sept. 2 EU imposes ban on purchases of Syrian oil.
Oct. 5 China and Russia veto a U.N. resolution condemning Syria.
Nov. 12 The Arab League suspends Syria.
Nov. 27 Arab states vote to impose economic sanctions on Syria.
Dec. 19 Syria signs the Arab League peace plan, and agrees to let monitors into country.
Jan. 22 The Arab League urges Assad to step down. Saudi Arabia quits monitoring mission.
Jan. 28 The Arab League suspends monitoring.
Feb. 4 Russia and China veto U.N. Security Council resolution, backed by Arab League, calling for Assad to step down.
Feb. 6 The United States closes its embassy in Syria.
Feb. 16 The U.N. General Assembly endorses an Arab League plan for a U.N.-Arab peacekeeping force.
Feb. 24 Foreign ministers from more than 50 countries meet in Tunis to discuss the situation in Syria. Russia and China do not attend.
March 1 Russia and China join other members of U.N. Security Council in expressing disappointment over Syria’s refusal to let U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visit the country.
March 6 The five permanent Security Council members and Morocco meet to discuss a U.S.-drafted resolution urging an end to the crackdown.
March 9 After finally being allowed into the country, Amos says the destruction in the Baba Amr neighborhood is devastating. She said she demanded access for humanitarian aid, but Assad’s government did not commit.
March 11 U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan ends talks with Assad and leaves Syria with little sign of progress.
March 21 The Security Council, including Russia and China, backs Annan’s six-point plan for ending the violence.
March 27 Assad agrees to Annan’s plan.

Help Refugees Fleeing Syria

Intense fighting in Syria has forced over 30,000 people to flee and seek safety. We are already on the ground in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, but we expect thousands more refugees in the coming weeks.Please help us raise enough money to purchase 2,400 blankets and other critical supplies to prepare for the influx of new refugees.

Your support will make an immediate impact. Please, donate what you can to help today.

  • $55 can distribute blankets for 5 refugee families.
  • $100 can provide kitchen sets for 5 families.
  • $345 can allocate a tent or shelter to one refugee family.
  • $1,000 can deliver 10 survival kits, each containing a blanket, a mattress, a kitchen set, a stove and soap.
  • $5,500 can supply blankets for 500 refugee families.

Or, join the Emergency Response Team today and provide 48 large blankets for $20 per month!

Help Syrian Refugee Children
Syrian refugees arrive in northern Lebanon. ©Reuters/Afif Diab

Sources: United Nations Institute for Training and Research; Institute for the Study of War; State Department; CIA;; staff reports; UNHCR
GRAPHIC: Laris Karklis, Laura Stanton, Bill Webster, Sisi Wei and Karen Yourish – The Washington Post. Published March 14, 2012.

via Washington Post and UNHCR.

On pointlessness

Image: Keystone/Zuma Rex Features

Image: Keystone/Zuma Rex Features

Saturday we heard about several kilos of drugs in UN diplomatic pouches shipped from Mexico via DHL that “weren’t intended for the UN”. Then why did DHL try to deliver them to the UN regardless of a complete lack of paperwork, or even an address label; surely that is against the law? Certainly it makes for failed and pointless security policies designed to prevent parcel-bombs.

Sunday saw Kofi Annan sounding off about the huge threat that the drugs trade presents to Africa’s fragile post-conflict countries. I suppose the doesn’t have the stomach to talk about the mid-conflict countries. The comments section is lit up like a Christmas Tree with pointed remarks about the failed and massively expensive War on Drugs. It also mentions Kofi’s less than sparkling reputation after the accusations against him in 2005 that damaged the UN’s reputation, leaving stains that are still visible today.

On Monday BBC Newsnight interviewed Wael “Mission Accomplished” Ghonim about Egypt’s restarted revolution or “his Revolution 2.0” as the BBC titled the segment (they are actually referring to the title of the book he just wrote. At least, I hope they are). Enough said. Almost. But a comment on the BBC blog, suggesting (tongue in cheek) that Mrs Ghonim might be his “CIA handler” did make me smile. Pointless aside: Wael also created the website for former election candidate Mohamed ElBaradei.

As I write this, it’s Tuesday, and we have just heard from the Arab League at the UN after their extended, then aborted, mission to Syria. Arab League as usual saying nothing of value, and certainly nothing that will help stop Syrian bloodshed or save Syria from a bitter civil war. Surely the biggest exercise in pointlessness of all.