Arab League mission to return to Syria: Ban
New York: The Arab League and United
Nations may send a joint observer mission to Syria where the
government's deadly crackdown could worsen, UN leader Ban Ki-moon has said.
Ban launched the idea as he bemoaned the UN Security
Council's failure to agree a resolution on the crisis, saying
the vote had been "disastrous" for the Syrian people and had
only encouraged President Bashar al-Assad to step up his "war"
Diplomats said careful preparation would be needed,
however, before an Arab League-UN mission could go ahead.
Ban and Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi
spoke on Tuesday. The League suspended its monitoring mission
to Syria on January 28 because of the mounting violence.
"He informed me that he intends to send the Arab League
observer mission back to Syria and asked for UN help," Ban
told reporters after briefing a UN Security Council meeting.
"He further suggested that we consider a joint observer
mission in Syria, including a joint special envoy."
The UN leader said consultations would be held with the
Arab League and UN Security Council members in coming days
"before fleshing out the details".
The UN secretary general said he feared the violence
would worsen and launched into a new attack on the divided
15-member Security Council. Russia and China again vetoed a
Syria resolution on Saturday.
"I deeply regret that the Security Council has been
unable to speak with one clear voice to end the bloodshed," he
"The failure to do so is disastrous for the people of
Syria. It has encouraged the Syrian government to step up its
war on its own people. Thousands have been killed in cold
blood, shredding President Assad's claims to speak for the
He said the "appalling brutality" of the government's
artillery assault on the protest city of Homs "is a grim
harbinger of worse to come."
Western nations have called for Assad to stand aside and
the Arab League has also proposed a plan under which he would
transfer powers to a deputy to allow new elections. But Russia
has stood by Assad.
"If this killing continues, it will only erode his
legitimacy as leader of Syria," Ban said when asked if Assad
should stand down.
"I have been repeatedly saying that he's losing
legitimacy as the leader of Syria. Therefore, it is important
to take bold and decisive measures. The situation has reached
a totally unacceptable stage."
The international community has been floundering over the
next step to take on Syria after Russia and China vetoed the
latest Security Council resolution. Russia called the text
drawn up by Arab and European nations "unbalanced".
Diplomats have said the idea of a joint Arab League-UN
mission could increase pressure on Assad but would have to be
considered along with other proposals.