Arab troops to Syria? Qatar makes a bold proposal.
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His comments, made to CBS “60 Minutes” for a segment that will air today, are the first time an Arab leader has suggested military intervention in Syria to stop the government’s brutal 10-month campaign to crush an anti-regime uprising.
His comments come as Syria has continued killing protesters despite the presence of Arab League monitors sent nearly three weeks ago as part of a League plan to end the violence. The UN estimates that at least 5,000 people have been killed since March, when Syria began its attempts to crush an uprising against the regime of President Bashar Al Assad. The UN estimates that 400 people have been killed in the last three weeks, reports the Associated Press.
In a video posted on the CBS website, CBS’s Bob Simon asked Qatar’s leader Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani if he would be in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria. “I think for such a situation to stop the killing, some troops should go to stop the killing,” said the emir.
Arab and non-Arab leaders have so far shunned suggestions of military intervention in Syria, which is allied with Iran and borders Israel. Some fear the conflict could ignite a larger sectarian crisis. Inside Syria, the conflict has become increasingly militarized.
The head of the Arab League, Nabil Al Arabi, warned Friday that Syria is slipping dangerously closer to civil war, according to the Associated Press. Army defectors have attacked security forces, and some opposition members have taken up arms as well.
Agence France-Presse reports that Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League and now a presidential candidate in Egypt, said Sunday the Arab League should study the Qatari leader’s proposal. “This is a very important proposal,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Beirut.
But an Arab League source in Cairo told Reuters that the League has not received an official request to send troops to Syria. "There is no official suggestion to send Arab troops to Syria at the current time.... There has been no Arab or a non-Arab agreement on a military intervention in Syria for the time being," said the official, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the head of the UN, speaking Sunday at a conference in Beirut, demanded that Mr. Assad stop using violence against Syrians. “Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” said Ban Ki-moon.
His pleas came as Syria’s state news agency announced that Assad has issued a general amnesty for “crimes committed in the context of the events taking place since March 15, 2011 till the date of issuing the decree.” The news agency says the amnesty applies to those who are accused of breaking laws on peaceful demonstration, carrying unlicensed weapons, and draft evasion. Syrians must “turn themselves in” by the end of the month to be granted amnesty, said the report.
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