Arab League turns to U.N. as Gulf observers quit Syria
Gulf Arab states withdrew their observers from Syria on Tuesday after it rejected an Arab League plan for President Bashar al-Assad to surrender power, prompting the group’s chief to call for U.N. help in ending Syria’s bloody upheaval.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem accused the League of plotting to engineer foreign intervention. Thousands of civilians and members of security forces have been killed in the 10-month-old uprising against Assad.
Despite Syria’s anger, Moualem agreed to extend by a month the mission of the remaining Arab League observers who are monitoring implementation of a plan to end the bloodshed. But he scornfully rejected the League’s latest proposal.
“Definitely the solution in Syria is not the solution suggested by the Arab League, which we have rejected. They have abandoned their role as the Arab League and we no longer want Arab solutions to the crisis,” Moualem said.
“Heading to the Security Council will be the third stage in their plan, and the only thing left is the last step of internationalization,” he told a news conference in Damascus.
“They can head to New York or to the moon. So long as we are not paying for their tickets it is none of our concern.”
The revolt in Syria was inspired by others that have toppled three Arab leaders and the bloodshed has battered Assad’s standing in the world, with Iran among his few remaining allies.
On Tuesday, the death toll rose to 26 by the evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Fifteen were killed in clashes between state forces and armed rebels in the flashpoint province of Homs.
Arab League officials said 55 Gulf Arab observers were being withdrawn while the other 110 members of the team would continue work in Syria.