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Arab League Announces New Plans For Syria, Extends Observation Team: Saudi Arabia Will Not Participate
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Arab League Announces New Plans for Syria, Extends Observation Team: Saudi Arabia Will Not Participate

The Arab League's foreign ministers have agreed that a new plan must be put in place for Syria to follow as well as agreeing that the observers that were set to end their mission in the conflicted country will extend their time there for another month. In part, the plan calls for President Bashar Assad to step down as president, immediately, delegating his power to a deputy. The next step will be to set up a new, unified government followed by elections according to this plan.

Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani spoke at a news conference after the conclusion of the meeting, held in Cairo. The Arab League will now take this proposal to the United Nation's Security Council to ask for united endorsement for the plan. Before finishing work on this plan, the Arab League also discussed extending the monitoring mission for another month. Monitors had been originally sent to Syria to investigate claims of violence against protesters, a move that was roundly criticized as ineffective at best. While the other member nations have agreed to continue, Saudi Arabia,one of Syria's harshest critics has announced that their own observers will no longer be participating. The Saudi Arabian ambassador had been recalled from Damascus last year to protest the bloody crackdown by Assad's government.

The Arab League will be calling on all of the international community, including Russia and China to put as much pressure on Syria as possible so that the nation will be forced to adhere to the peace plan. Syrian forces and a number of army defectors reportedly clashed in some of the suburban areas of Damascus, leading to fears that the nation is headed for civil war.

In addition to Assad stepping down and the observer mission continuing, the Arab League plan has called for the removal of heavy weaponry out of the cities of Syria, including the capital, Damascus, an end on attacks on protesters, especially peaceful, unarmed protesters. The plan calls for new talks with opposition leaders and the permission for foreigners, including human rights workers and journalists to come into the country. Assad has banned both from coming into Syria, leaving many outside of the nation to rely on information that cannot be confirmed.

During the observer's mission, nearly one thousand people were killed, including a large number of women and children. In all, the United Nations has estimated that over five thousand people have died in the country in less than one year.


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