Cairo: Reuters: 17/10/2011: Leaders from the Arab League stopped short of voting Syria out of its charter over charges Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is using extreme violence to crackdown on protesters.
Arab leaders have called for an end to the bloodshed between the anti-government demonstrators and troops loyal to al-Assad, but have not agreed on a means for achieving it.
At a news conference after the meeting, a spokesperson for the league said throwing Syria out of the organization would close the lines of communication, and prove detrimental for both sides.
"Every issue was studied. But please allow me to say that I have met with a large number of the Syrian opposition groups, of all kinds, and most of them said, with all clarity, that freezing [Syria’s] membership is not in their interests. Because freezing their membership means cutting off the relations between the Arab League and Syria. And this is not what is needed. What is needed is to place all of the weight of the Arab League Council of Ministers in order to reach a solution that guarantees an end to bloodshed, and which guarantees the realisation of the reforms that the Syrian people are demanding."
Leaders did agree on forming a committee to open dialogue between the government and opposition leaders…. that meeting is set to take place in about two weeks.
The national dialogue is to include members of the opposition from outside Syria as well as inside. If the meeting and a cease-fire do not take place within the allotted time frame, the Arab League will meet again in an emergency session, participants said.
Damascus expressed reservations about the plan, which proposes the two sides meet for talks at the League’s headquarters in Cairo.
During the meetings, about 2,000 anti-Assad protesters rallied outside the Arab League building on the edge of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the center of Egypt’s uprising. The shouted, “The people of Syria want Assad expelled from the Arab League.”
The failure to take stronger action against Syria is likely to intensify criticism that the League has been ineffectual in dealing with the Syrian crisis.
According to the United Nations, the Syrian government has killed at least 3,000 people in pro-democracy crackdowns, including several hundred children.