Jan. 30 - Arab League monitors are awaiting further orders in Syria, as U.N. prepares to take up Syria amid Russian objections. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Awaiting orders in Damascus. Arab League observers are cooling their heels at a hotel in Damascus, after their work was suspended Saturday. The head of the mission Mohamed Addabi, says the observers will stay in Syria until further notice. Amateur video out of Syria, which could not be independently verified by Reuters shows violence raging in other parts of the country. Russia, a U.N. Security Council member and one of Syria's few allies, said President Bashar al-Assad's government agreed to talks in Moscow to end the Syrian crisis, but a major opposition body rejected any dialogue with him. The new fighting and Russian diplomacy comes as the Arab League and France prepared to lobby the Security Council to act on a peace plan that would remove Assad from power. The Russian position is in part about its internal politics says political analyst Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTRE POLITICAL ANALYST MARIA LIPMAN, SAYING: "In Russia, there's an election campaign going on. This time, the position of Vladimir Putin is weaker than any other time he has participated personally in an election campaign. He's conducting this campaign personally. And the anti-American mood that exists in Russian society - that's a mood that he simply doesn't ignore, but he has played it up for the whole duration of his leadership." It's also a question about what would work on the ground in Syria. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER POLITICAL ANALYST MARIA LIPMAN, SAYING: "I think that the position on Syria is, nevertheless, connected to the fact that the Russian leadership is not sure that steps and measures undertaken by Western countries and which the Arab League joins, will stop the development that's put them on the path to instability." On Friday, the U.N. Security Council discussed a European-Arab draft resolution aimed at halting the bloodshed. Britain and France said they hoped to put it to a vote next week. Russia joined China in vetoing a previous Western draft resolution in October, and has said it wants a Syrian-led political process, not "an Arab League-imposed outcome" or Libyan-style "regime change". Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.