Arab League backs Annan's Syria plan at Baghdad summit

Smoke billows above Baghdad after a blast near the secure Green Zone, 29 March Smoke billowed above Baghdad after a blast near the secure Green Zone

Arab League leaders have called for the immediate implementation of a joint plan with the UN to end a year of violence in Syria.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has accepted the plan, state media report, but says "terrorism" must stop as well.

Earlier, Iraq's PM Nouri al-Maliki warned that arming either side in Syria would lead to a "proxy war".

He was speaking at the opening of an Arab League summit in Baghdad - the first such meeting there for decades.

President Assad's remarks were contained in a message to the world's emerging powers - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - who met in Delhi on Thursday.

He said he would work to enforce the peace plan but "terrorism" must stop as well, state news agency Sana reported.

The Syrian government blames the anti-government uprising on foreign-backed terrorists and armed criminal gangs.


Leaders who attended

  • Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
  • Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
  • Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
  • Comoros President Ikililou Dhoinine
  • Libyan National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil
  • Lebanese President Michel Suleiman
  • The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah

The UN-Arab League plan, brokered by envoy Kofi Annan, would see a UN-monitored end to fighting, troops pulled out of opposition areas and access for humanitarian services.

Syria first agreed to the initiative on Tuesday but violence has continued.

A number of explosions were heard in central Baghdad as the summit was getting under way.

Two of the blasts occurred near the Iranian embassy, eyewitnesses said. There were unconfirmed reports that an explosion near the city's secure Green Zone was an IED (improvised explosive device).

Fewer than half the Arab League's 22 heads of state turned up for the summit, reflecting their suspicion of Iraq's government and its close ties to non-Arab Iran. Iran is also Syria's closest ally in the Middle East.

"Based on our experience in Iraq, the option to arm either side of the conflict will lead to a regional and international proxy war in Syria," Mr Maliki said.

The Emir of Kuwait attended the summit - the first visit by a Kuwaiti leader to Baghdad since Kuwait was invaded by Iraq under Saddam Hussein in August 1990.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the two Arab states most fiercely opposed to the Syrian government, only sent envoys.

Arab League leaders and envoys gather for a group photo in Baghdad, 29 March Arab League leaders and envoys posed for a group photo in Baghdad

The summit was held in such tight security at the city's former Republican Palace that the venue was not initially disclosed to journalists.

While expectations were not high for the talks, the fact that they were being held in the Iraqi capital at all can be seen as a sign of progress for Iraq, says the BBC's Wyre Davies, in Baghdad.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria "to put commitments into immediate effect".

"The world is waiting for commitments to be translated into action. The key here is implementation: there is no time to waste," Mr Ban told the summit.

'Keep pressure on'

The UK will give £500,000 ($795,000) to Syrian opposition groups, Foreign Secretary William Hague is to announce later on Thursday.

The money will be used for "practical non-lethal support" and to document human rights abuses by the Syrian government, Mr Hague will say in a speech in London.

Annan's six-point peace plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have voiced their support for arming opposition forces in Syria, and some analysts believe they are already funnelling weapons to the rebels.

Washington has urged countries to maintain pressure on the Syrian government.

The US state department said it had "not seen the promises that Assad made implemented".

The opposition in Syria is sceptical about the terms of Mr Annan's plan, with some saying Mr Assad is merely stalling for time in order to continue his crackdown.

"We are not sure if it's political manoeuvring or a sincere act," said Louay Safi, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council.

"We have no trust in the current regime... We have to see that they have stopped killing civilians."

The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed during the year-long Syrian revolt.


More on This Story

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  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The Libya crisis has effectively stifled the UN because China and Russia are well aware how a humanitarian crisis was manipulated to institute military action against one side and regime change (to one which has already committed acts as brutal as it's predecessor).
    I think the UN should agree to allow China and Russia to get the aid to the people and allowing them to do it militarily if need be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Due to the end of the cold war, our leaders have been struggling to formulate a new way to destroy the planet. They might have found one, as the constant oppression, bordering on racism, towards arab and muslim countries, might just bring it about. We are sleepwalking our way to armageddon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Let me guess...
    These bombs were set off by followers of, and in the name of... the religion of peace?

    Thought so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    36.Controlled Pair
    ...Kurds are the world's largest group of stateless people. More have been killed by Turkey than in the Israel/Pal conflict. ...Yet the left wing don't speak up.
    I'd look up support for Kurd amongst other in Germany and Denmark before making such a statement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    All civil wars are a tragedy. External involvement makes them worse. The Arab League is a talking shop. What is interesting about the Sryia flashpoint is the nascent emergence of BRICS (Brazil/Russia/India/China/S.Africa) as a 21stC international political power block. As the EU crumbles, the 'US Century' is rapidly fading too. Their Oil War in Essopotamia seems to have drawn out the BRICS.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Martin, your solution is part of the problem, are you a US marine or some thing ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    it seems that in the middle east, the solution to the problem "my strand of Islam is better than your strand of Islam" is to blow something up. Similarly, if there is a land dispute, the favoured solution is to blow something up. If a middle eastern see's something happening in the world they do not like, they go and blow something up. My solution to the problems of the middle east?


  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Syria is about to collapse into civil war, and there is nothing we can do about it. Civil wars are always messy and violent. Media coverage of syria is patchy and unbalanced. Yes some journos went to Homs, how many have been to interview alawite, shia and christian communities who do not look forward to a sunni government? If we intervene, we will have to choose sides.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Whys are we there sticking our noses in yet again , nothing at all will change until the people themselves want rid of the dictators , it will all end as all the places in the middle east have tribal warfare ,they are not like us their outlook religeon .. they are in the 12th century until they catch up nothing will work , they do not want us interfering ,plus the cost of the summit is appalling ,

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Bombs in Baghdad, well at least their not of western origin! Jeez'oh Lawrence of Arabia was right, getting all these factions to agree to anything that's in everyones best interests rarely happens in this region! Wasted lives & billions.........keeps Hollywood busy I suppose...

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Military intelligence has confirmed that Al-Qaeda is behind the uprising in Syria. When they win we will have a new Libyan situation. Whatever happened to the much anticipated democracy in Libya?

  • Comment number 31.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Will the region's desire for unity ever trump the tribal mentality that still seems to control the region? Sorry I have become very pessimistic. Not that the West wasn't tribal until the very recent past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Arab leaders have begun talks on UN-backed peace plan for Syria - Good luck with that one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Strange, when in some countries a book gets burnt, their out on the streets. But when it's their people they sit by and watch.

  • Comment number 27.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    #20 HooHum
    Islam began in the 6th Century, it is Christianity, in the form we would recognise, which was codified in the 3rd century, in Syria, which was the cradle and centre of Christianity.
    So there you go.
    Until Russia/China stop vetoing nothing can be done.
    Armed intervention is out of the question anyway.
    If there's an attack on Iran, who knows where the region goes.
    Buy a bicycle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    17 Minutes ago

    The Religion of Islam is from the 7th Century


Page 10 of 12


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