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Arabs reveal Syria plan as NATO rejects intervention - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets after Friday prayers in Hula. (R)

Demonstrators protesting against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets after Friday prayers in Hula. (R)

DOHA, (AFP) — The Arab League on Monday revealed its roadmap to end violence in Syria, as NATO ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone over the country whose regime has been waging a deadly crackdown on protesters.

The roadmap calls for tanks to be withdrawn from Syrian streets and for talks between the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad and its opponents, League chief Nabil al-Arabi told AFP in the Qatari capital.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, meanwhile, ruled out the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, in remarks made to AFP en route to Libya, where the alliance conducted an air war that helped to oust dictator Mummer Gaddafi.

The head of the Arab League said the group’s foreign ministers were awaiting a response after putting the proposals to a Syrian delegation led by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during talks in Doha on Sunday.

The talks came amid growing fears among regional leaders that unchecked Syrian bloodshed could further inflame the Arab world.

“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 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 Assad.

The Syrian delegation also left Doha later without making any statements, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel reported, after Muallem held talks with the Qatari emir.

En route to Libya, the NATO sectary general categorically ruled out the option of the alliance imposing a no-fly zone over Syria.

“It’s totally ruled out. We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria,” Rasmussen told an AFP correspondent travelling with him.

“We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria,” he insisted, saying the conditions there were different to those in Libya, where the coalition had a “clear UN mandate.”

But speaking at a joint press conference in Tripoli with Libya’s interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Rasmussen said the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime sent a signal to dictatorships worldwide.

“I think what has happened in Libya has sent a very clear signal to autocratic regimes all over the world. You cannot neglect the will of the people” he said.

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

Repeating previous warnings, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said Assad risked forcing an international intervention if he allows the violence to continue.

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

Assad must take “concrete steps,” he said, to end the unrest that according to the United Nations has claimed more than 3,000 Syrian lives since March.

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

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

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

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region,” Syria’s embattled president told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Assad Monday dismissing the Syrian opposition as unrepresentative elements who did not deserve his time.

“I wouldn’t waste my time talking about them,” he said. “I don’t know them. It’s better to investigate whether they really represent Syrians.”

The Doha talks came as Syrian activists put mounting pressure on the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership of the 22-member bloc and organised protests across Syria on Sunday calling for the League to “freeze the membership” of Syria and as the death toll in Syria rose.

On Monday, three people, including a 29-year-old man was shot dead by a sniper in the protest hub city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Another civilian and an army deserter were killed in Hama province in a pursuit by security forces, the London-based group said in a statement.

A fourth civilian was shot dead in Harasta, a town near Damascus as security forces carried out raids and made at least 13 arrests, it added, a day after at least seven people were killed in violence in several cities.

Meanwhile, dozens of students demonstrated at the University of Qalamun in the Damascus region demanding the fall of the Baath party regime.

“Bashar go away, there shall not be a dialogue,” they chanted according to a video posted on You Tube website.

Almost 100 people were killed in Syria on Friday and Saturday, the two bloodiest days yet of the uprising, among them 30 Syrian security agents and dozens of civilians, according to Observatory.

In Damascus meanwhile, a national committee began work Monday “to draft a new constitution for Syria,” the official SANA news agency reported.

A new constitution was one of the key demands of the Syrian opposition at the start of the anti-government protests in March. Now they are demanding Assad’s ouster.

Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets in Homs. (R)

Demonstrators protesting against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets in Homs. (R)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is pictured during an interview with Russian television in Damascus. (R)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is pictured during an interview with Russian television in Damascus. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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