Another Arab leader making his first appearance at the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting after being swept into power by the Arab Spring revolutions was Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. He took office in February after more than a year of political turmoil and is now trying to steer his country's democratic transition.
Hadi called on the U.N. to grant membership to Palestine and support a transfer of power in Syria.
"The only option for our brothers in Syria is to agree on an initiative ... for peaceful change and transfer of power through ballot boxes," he said.
Also Wednesday, members of the U.N. Security Council are scheduled to discuss change in the Arab world. With no sign of an end to the Security Council's paralysis over intervening to end the raging Syrian civil war, Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig said his country chose to focus the council's ministerial session on something new and positive in the Mideast — "the emergence of the Arab League as a regional actor that has proved to be essential for conflict resolution."
The 21-member Arab League has shaken off decades of near total submission to the will of the region's leaders and is seeking to transform itself after the seismic changes brought about by the Arab revolutions. The league has supported the rebels who ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and suspended Syria in response to Assad's brutal crackdown against his opponents.
"This organization is promoting the values that the United Nations is standing for — human rights, rule of law, democracy, pluralism," the fight against corruption and promoting economic opportunity, Wittig said.
As rebels claimed credit Wednesday for a strike on Syria's army command headquarters in Damascus, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said that advances by the opposition could lead to a break in the impasse.
"Either there will be a political solution, and here the government is not going to budge, or there will be a change in the situation there," he said. "The more the opposition gains ground, the more this will be easier."
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who was swept to power after protests in his country kicked off the Arab Spring, told reporters that the Arab League must act immediately to protect the lives of Syrians.
"The Syrian people haven't been backed as they deserve, and it's now our responsibility as Arabs to back these people against a bloody dictator who's obviously decided to burn the whole country to stay in power," he said.
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