Published on 9 Nov 2011 Sections ,

Arab League consider suspending Syria

As Syrian troops continue their bloody crackdown on protesters in Homs, a human rights group tells Channel 4 News that Syria “will be suspended from the Arab League” at talks on Saturday.

The Arab League is holding an emergency meeting on 12 November to discuss continued violence in the country and the failure of the government in Damascus to honour commitments it made to the League.

Avaaz human rights campaigner, Wissam Tarif, told Channel 4 News that the meeting would see Syria suspended from the Arab League.

“The Arab League process is coming to an end. Syria must be suspended from the Arab League immediately, and that will happen at meetings on Saturday.”

In the case of Libya, the league suspended its membership and backed a no-fly zone, but it has so far treated Syria more leniently.

The Arab League process is coming to an end. Syria must be suspended from the Arab League immediately, and that will happen at meetings on Saturday. – Wissam Tarif, Avaaz human rights campaigner

‘Respond swiftly and decisively’

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister William Hague urged the Arab League to step up pressure to force Assad from power.

“We urge them to respond swiftly and decisively with diplomatic pressure to enforce this agreement, with the support of the international community.

“These developments to us confirm that President Assad must step aside and allow others to take forward the political transition the country desperately needs,” he said.

Mr Tarif told Channel 4 News that Russia must stop blocking resolutions to condemn the violence.

“We need an internationational mandate to bring action on this. The situation is really serious and it’s threatening regional security.

“Russia has continually vetoed UN resolutions against the Syrian regime despite clear evidence of crimes against humanity. The real question is are they able to veto another solution?”

Opposition party egged

A meeting between the Arab League and a group of Syria’s opposition leaders in Cairo was postponed after minor scuffles broke out and members of the opposition were pelted with eggs.

Syrian protesters threw eggs and flour at members of the main opposition party, demanding they take action rather than just words to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The incident came a day after the United Nations said more than 3,500 protesters had been killed so far in the crackdown.

Mr Tarif, told Channel 4 News that while some might portray the incident as evidence of division within the opposition, the group came about organically as a result of the uprising:

“The opposition is not warring. The National Council is representative of the local committees and the main opposition powers and it’s seen by the Syrian people as the most legitimate.”

RTV: Explosion in Homs on November 8.

Under seige

In the city of Homs activists said explosions and gunfire could be heard as Syrian troops stormed the neighbourhood of Baba Amr, raiding houses and making arrests.

Syrian troops and tanks have continued to fire on protesters in the city, defying a peace plan brokered by the Arab League last week.

Under the deal, Syria had agreed to pull its forces out of neighbourhoods and cities. But the UN says that since then, more than 60 people have been reported killed.

Read more: Inside Syria’s dungeons

“Syrian troops continue to use tanks and heavy weaponry to attack residential areas in the city of Homs. The neighbourhood of Bab Amr has been under siege for seven days, with residents deprived of food, water and medical supplies,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr Tarif said that Homs had become a major centre of resistance and reprisal as protesters took up arms.

“People are holding weapons and fighting back. The view on the ground is that this man [Assad] will not go without a fight.”