NATO rules out Syria intervention
While Rasmussen says military action was out of question, Arab League calls for tanks to be withdrawn from the streets.
|Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem met the Qatari ruler, but left Doha without issuing a statement [EPA]|
NATO has ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Syria while the Arab League revealed its roadmap to end violence in the Arab state.
Speaking during a visit to the Libyan capital Tripoli, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said military action in Syria was out of the question.
“My answer is very short. NATO has no intention (to intervene) whatsoever. I can completely rule that out,” he told reporters.
“Having said that, I strongly condemn the crackdown on the civilian population in Syria. What has happened in Libya sends a clear signal. You cannot neglect the will of the people.”
The Arab League’s roadmap calls for tanks to be withdrawn from Syrian streets and for talks in Cairo between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and its opponents, Nabil al-Arabi, the bloc’s chief, told AFP in Doha, the Qatari capital.
Al-Arabi said the bloc’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 Syrian delegation has since left Doha without making any statements after Muallem held talks with the Qatari ruler.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister, said on Sunday that 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 an Arab League 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 said.
Assad, on his part, had 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,” the president told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.
The Daily Telegraph quoted Assad on Monday as 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 as the death toll in protests rose.
On Monday, three people, including a 29-year-old man was shot dead by a sniper in the protest hub city of Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Another civilian and an army deserter were killed in Hama province 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 reportedly killed in violence in several cities.