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Arab League Calls For Assad To Step Down

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby (L) talks with Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim during a meeting of the Arab League's committee on Syria, in Cairo, Egypt, January 22, 2012.

U.S. Supports move to bring the issue before the United Nations Security Council.

The Arab League sent more than 150 monitors to Syria to verify that the regime was complying with the action plan it agreed to, aimed at stopping violence in the country. On January 22nd Arab League Foreign Ministers met and determined that the Syrian regime had not abided by its promises. The Arab League, recognizing that Syrians are still subject to brutality, called for Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad to delegate authorities to a deputy to help end the brutal repression of the Syrian people and begin a process of constructive dialogue.

The plan called for a unity government to be set up within two months to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held under Arab and international supervision.

The Arab League, along with the United States, the European Union and other countries around the world, asserted that now is the time for Assad to step aside and allow a peaceful political transition to go forward. “Regrettably,” said State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, “Assad rejected [the proposal] almost before the ink was dry.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 Syrian civilians have been killed at the hands of the Assad regime’s security forces since peaceful protests against Assad’s rule began in March 2011. On November 2nd, Syria accepted an Arab League peace plan, but the League’s January 22nd report, said Ms. Nuland, makes “absolutely clear” that the Assad regime has not fully implemented any of the provisions it agreed to. Indeed, the Assad regime continues to perpetrate violence against its citizens. The Arab League report calls the situation in Syria a state of severe stagnation, oppression, and injustice.

The Arab League has concluded that it is time to bring the issue before the United Nations Security Council -- a step the United States supports, said Ms. Nuland. “From our perspective, we would like to see a Security Council resolution that firmly reflects the conclusions of the Arab League report and reflects the various pieces of unfinished business that the Arab League has highlighted.”

In the meantime, the United States supports the extension of the monitoring mission in Syria for another month. Ms. Nuland said that “it not the job of the monitors to stop the violence. It is the job of the Assad regime to stop the violence. It’s the job of the Assad regime to pull back its tanks, to allow journalists in, to release people from prison.”