Kerry: Saudi Arabia OK with international military strike on Syria
September 8th, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Kerry: Saudi Arabia OK with international military strike on Syria

By CNN's Elise Labott and Steve Almasy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Sunday from Paris, where he met with Arab League ministers, said Saudi Arabia has approved international military intervention in Syria.

"They support the strike," Kerry said after meeting with Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia is a diplomatic heavyweight in the Arab world, but hasn't publicly called for an international military reprisal after a reported chemical weapons attack last month by the Syrian military against rebels.

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"Little movement" on Syria
March 12th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

"Little movement" on Syria

By Jill Dougherty and Jamie Crawford

Even before their meeting at the United Nations began Monday, it was downgraded from a talk over breakfast to a quick discussion of what can be done immediately to end the descent into seemingly unstoppable violence in Syria.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "constructive."

A senior administration official told CNN it was "pretty straightforward. ... No drama but little movement."

Another senior administration official described the meeting as "workmanlike." FULL POST

Finding the road ahead for Syria
Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) take position in Idlib in northwestern Syria on February 22, 2012
February 23rd, 2012
06:38 PM ET

Finding the road ahead for Syria

By Elise Labott

After a slow start convening a group to deal with the crisis in Syria, the so-called Friends of Syria are hoping to close their inaugural meeting with a concrete plan to address the growing humanitarian needs in the country and an initial move toward recognizing the Syrian opposition as a key player in a post-Assad transition.

The more than 70 countries and international organizations gathering in Tunis on Friday are expected to unveil a plan for getting emergency aid to the Syrian people and issue a stern warning to President Bashar al-Assad.  They want him to agree to an immediate cease-fire and provide access to humanitarian groups to deliver the aid or face a yet-to-be mentioned response from the world community. FULL POST

Challenge to Arab League's Syria proposal
February 13th, 2012
08:57 PM ET

Challenge to Arab League's Syria proposal

By Elise Labott

The Obama administration is studying whether the Arab League's call this weekend for a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force could work in Syria, but is stuck on one key point: there needs to be peace first.

Secetary of State Hillary Clinton stated the obvious Monday when she said, "There are a lot of challenges to be discussed as to how to put into effect all of their recommendations and certainly the peacekeeping request is one that will take agreement and consensus.

First off, any U.N. action would need a Security Council resolution. And given Russian and Chinese support for Damascus, that prospect isn't looking so promising.

February 8th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Why Syria isn't Libya

By Tim Lister

Amid growing outrage over civilian casualties in Syria, there are ever more urgent calls to aid - or at least protect - the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. There is renewed talk of creating safe havens and humanitarian corridors inside the country. And those demanding tougher measures are again asking why events in Syria should not prompt Libyan-style intervention by NATO and its Arab allies.

In Washington Tuesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said the United States "should consider all options, including arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop."

So far, the international community's response to the violence in Syria has been limited. There has been diplomatic censure, with envoys withdrawn or "recalled for consultations," and Syrian ambassadors expelled from several Arab states. A growing raft of sanctions is draining the Syrian regime's coffers but only gradually sapping its strength. This is not a country that has relied on international trade for its survival. FULL POST

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Filed under: Arab League • Libya • Middle East • NATO • Syria
February 7th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Threat of proxy war times two in Syria

By Ivan Watson reporting from Istanbul, Turkey

The bloody internal struggle over the future of Syria is increasingly taking on a wider, regional dimension that could be seen as a proxy war times two.

At one level, it is a showdown of the old Cold War dimension, pitting the United States and other Western countries against Russia and China. But there is a second proxy battle going on, as throughout the Middle East battle-lines are being drawn between governments that support and those that oppose the al-Assad, regime based mostly on allegiance to Shiite and Sunni heritage.

Turkey - Syria's most powerful neighbor - accuses Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of massacring his own citizens. The Turkish prime minister threatened new pressure tactics in an address to Parliament.

"We will start a new initiative at this point with those countries that will be on the side of the Syrian people, and not with the Syrian regime," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament. FULL POST

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Filed under: Arab League • Hezbollah • Iran • Iraq • Lebanon • Libya • Middle East • Saudi Arabia • Syria • Turkey
Obama's Yemeni snake dance
January 24th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Obama's Yemeni snake dance

By Elise Labott

Outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh arrives in the United States this week for medical treatment from wounds he suffered during an assassination attempt last year, or so the story goes.

Saleh left the country over the weekend after being granted immunity as part of a plan, hammered out by neighboring Persian Gulf states and backed by the United States, to ease his grip on power and to end the country's political quagmire.

The deal has drawn wide condemnation from protestors in Yemen who maintain Saleh should be prosecuted for the deaths of hundreds of Yemenis at the hands of his security forces and loyalists since the uprising against his rule broke out last year.

The Arab world, along with the United States, has been looking for a formula of easing the region's overdue rulers out of power while providing a sense of closure to the people who suffered at the hands of their rule.  So far, none of them have been quite right: Tunisia's Zine el Abidine Ben Ali snuck out of the country in the middle of the night to Saudi Arabia; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is undergoing a trial that has raised questions about fairness in the Egyptian justice system and continues to drain the nation's emotions; and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi found justice at the hand of a vigilante's bullet. FULL POST

Filed under: Arab League • Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Yemen