Last updated: 19 October, 2011

Syria state media lashes out at Arab League

An official Syrian daily lashed out at the Arab League Wednesday, accusing it of serving US and Israeli interests after the organisation urged Damascus to open up to dialogue.

“It is no longer surprising to see the Arab League, which is supposed to be concerned with joint Arab action, turn into an instrument of injustice aimed at destabilising Syria,” said the daily Ath-Thawra.

The daily said the 22-member Arab League was “hostage to powers following the agenda of aggressors like the United States, Israel and their European allies.”

“Following years of inaction, the Arab League has now become a tool of destabilisation, and is acting against Arab interests,” said the newspaper.

At an urgent session in Cairo on October 16, the Arab League called for “national dialogue” between Syria’s government and the opposition in the Egyptian capital by the end of the month to help end the violence and avoid “foreign intervention” in Syria.

Syria’s representative to the Arab League Youssef Ahmad slammed what he said was a “conspiracy” against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Cairo meeting on Sunday.

Protests against the Assad-controlled Baath Party, which has ruled Syria unchallenged for close to 50 years, erupted in March and have shown no signs of dying down despite a rising death toll.

The United Nations on Friday said more than 3,000 people, including 187 children, have been killed in a fierce crackdown on the dissent.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television aired a broadcast of what it said was a pro-Assad rally in the second city of Aleppo, Syria’s economic hub, claiming it was attended by a million supporters of the embattled president.

It showed demonstrators carrying portraits of Assad, flags of Syria and those of its allies Russia and China, as well as banners praising reforms promised by Assad.

On October 4, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, drawn up by European nations, threatening action if Syria’s leader does not end a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

At the time Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said the European resolution was “based on a philosophy of confrontation.”

Moscow has been pushing for a resolution calling for dialogue in Syria — a move backed by China.