Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arab League suspend Syria till it ends its violence against protesters

The Arab League has finally taken action and surprised the many people (including the writer of this blog) who thought that it was too indecisive to move against Damascus. In a meeting on Saturday in Cairo it  temporarily suspended Syria and called upon the Syrian army to stop the killing of civilians. Also it asked the Syrian oppostion to attend a meeting at the headquarters of the League in Cairo to formulate a unified stand for a transitional period.

On the same day the oppostion reported that at at least 16 people were killed in new violence. Six people died in Homs, four in Idlib; four in Dera'a, one in Latakiya and one in Rif Dimashq.

The decision by the League was clearly intended to send a strong signal to the government of Bashar al-Assad that more can follow if Syria does not fullfil the promises it made two weeks ago in its agreement with the League. So far the decision does not affect Syria's membership in the League, but it suspends temporarily its participation in ministerial meetings and appeals on member states to recall their representatitives in Damascus. The resolution, to which Lebanon and Yemen objected, and on which Iraq expressed reservations, promises to lift the suspension once Syria ends the use of violence against protesters.
The suspension starts 16 November. An Arab League ministerial meeting is scheduled in Morocco on that day to review developments. "If the Syrian regime has ended the use of violence by then, as it had promised two weeks ago when it agreed to the Arab initiative to end the crisis in Syria, then the suspension would not go into effect," said Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad Ben Jassim whose country is chairing the Arab League ministerial council.
"If no agreement is reachable between the regime and the opposition then we have to come back to the Arab League as foreign ministers to decide our next step," Ben Jassem said.
For his part, Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby said that the resolution does not open the door to foreign intervention in Syria. "We are working within the Arab framework and this what we have been working with the Syrian government on for the past four months, and today we are expecting the Syrian government to fully honour its commitments to end the violence in Syria."
 Syria's representative to the Arab League said suspending Damascus violated the organization's charter and showed it was "serving a Western and American agenda." Youssef Ahmed told Syrian state television the move to suspend Syria could only be taken by consensus at a summit meeting of Arab leaders.

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