BEIRUT (AP) — An Arab League committee has submitted a plan to end the bloodshed in Syria and a response from Damascus was expected Monday, Qatar's foreign minister said.
There were no details on what the plan entailed, but the announcement comes amid intensified efforts by the 22-nation body toward resolving the deadly seven-month confrontation between the regime of President Bashar Assad and protesters demanding his overthrow.
The Arab League panel held a "clear and frank" meeting with a Syrian delegation in Qatar on Sunday, said Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim.
An Arab diplomat in the league headquarters in Egypt meanwhile said the Arab League will hold an extraordinary session to discuss the unrest-torn nation on Wednesday. The ministers will receive a report on the mission to Syria and a "plan of action," said the official, who asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The uprising against Assad began in mid-March during a wave of anti-government protests in the Arab world that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The U.N. says that Assad's crackdown has left more than 3,000 people dead.
While the specifics of the proposal were unknown, the opposition's stance on dialogue with the regime is mixed. Some influential figures in the opposition have refused to talk to the Assad regime while the military crackdown continues; others see dialogue as a way out of the crisis.
In an interview published Sunday, Assad warned the Middle East will burn if the West intervenes in his country's 7-month-old uprising, threatening to turn the region into "tens of Afghanistans."
Assad's comments to Britain's Sunday Telegraph were his harshest so far regarding the potential for foreign intervention. But they belie a growing concern over the possibility of some sort of Western military action after months of NATO airstrikes helped rebellious Libyans oust Moammar Gadhafi.
"Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground, you will cause an earthquake," Assad said. "Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?"
Still the U.S. and its allies have shown little appetite for intervening in another Arab nation in turmoil, and Syrian opposition leaders have not called for an armed uprising like the one in Libya and have for the most part opposed foreign intervention.