Arab League - Reuters - January 2012
Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States addresses the the United Nations Security Council as it meets at U.N. headquarters in New York January 31, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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The Arab League gave the UN Security Council in New York Tuesday a briefing on the deteriorating situation in Syria, where more than 5,400 people have been killed during 11 months of unrest pitting government security forces against civilian opponents.

The league's Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani provided the council with a report on its monitoring mission Syria, which it said was welcomed by the Syrian people.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Security Council on Tuesday that U.N. action to end the violence in Syria would be different from the NATO-led efforts in Libya that resulted in the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi.

"I know that some members here may be concerned that the Security Council is headed toward another Libya," she said. "That is a false analogy."

Russia says it worries that a draft measure aimed at Syria, currently before the council, could lead to military action and regime change - just as an Arab-backed U.N. resolution led to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

"It is time for the international community to put aside our own differences and send a clear message of support to the people of Syria," Clinton said.

The meeting culminates months of efforts to bring the Syrian conflict before the council, a move that has been resisted by Russia and China.

According to diplomatic sources Russia, China, and India are expected to oppose the sanctions on Syria.

These sources say that the upcoming elections in Russia are the reason for the Russian government’s position - Vladimir Putin is interested in presenting himself as independent and strong in foreign policy.

Al-Thani told the council that the Syrian government failed to accept the league's plan of action to end the bloodshed, which resulted in the league's calls for imposing sanctions against Damascus.

He accused Damascus of resorting to stalling tactics while trying to put down the popular unrest.

"Unfortunately, the Syrian government did not fully and immediately met its commitments (to the Arab League," Al-Thani said.

The report provided to the council said Damascus resorted to "excessive use of force" to confront an "armed entity," which it did not name.

In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the government to respond with further violence," the report said. "In the end, innocent citizens pay the price for those actions with life and limb."

The Arab League observer mission was withdrawn after encountering difficulties in carrying out its tasks and also because of the lack of logistics. The league had demanded, but unsuccessfully, that Damascus protect civilian protesters, withdraw its military forces from cities and provide free access to the league's monitors.