Arab League suspension of Syria elicits contrasting responses
and imposition of sanctions by the Arab League on Syria that is due to take
effect on Wednesday is being met with uproar from the Syrian regime and its
supporters. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem denounced the
move as an "illegal" and "dangerous step" saying that "Syria will not budge and
will emerge stronger...and plots against Syria will fail." Regime supporters attacked
the Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and Qatari embassies in protest of the suspension.
Foreign governments have had varied responses.
Russia condemned the suspension accusing Western nations of inciting the
opposition. Angered by the attack on its embassy, Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davultoglu asserted, "We will take the most resolute stance
against these attacks and we will stand by the Syrian people's rightful struggle."
Union reached an agreement to extend sanctions. King Abdullah
of Jordan called for Bashar al-Assad to resign stating, "If Bashar has the
interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an
ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life. Syria has
requested an emergency
meeting with the Arab League prior to the suspension and said it will meet
with representatives from the opposition on Tuesday.
- The Israeli government is being
criticized for attempting to silence opposition after backing bills to limit
foreign aid to politically left NGOs dealing with Palestinian rights
and civil liberties.
- A Quartet envoy is meeting
separately with Palestinian and Israeli representatives today with
little prospect of progressing toward direct talks.
- Three French aid workers kidnapped
nearly six months ago by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen were released
after assistance from the Sultan of Oman.
- As Libya awaits government formation for militia disarmament,
rival factions continue to clash
in Libya despite mediation efforts by the interim government.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem speaks under a
portrait of President Bashar al-Assad during a press conference in
Damascus on November 14, 2011. Muallem said that the government in
Damascus will not budge despite its suspension from the Arab League,
which he warned was a 'dangerous step.' (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
'Diplomacy is the least damaging option with Iran' (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Financial Times)
IAEA report has the dual advantage of expressing global concern over
Iranian behavior and of focusing attention on Iran's violation of its
international obligations. Western governments should now turn back to
Turkey and Brazil. Turkish-Iranian frictions are on the rise,
particularly over Syria and Arab uprisings across the region. But Turkey
has a direct stake in avoiding an outcome in which Iran upstages it as
the region's only nuclear power besides Israel; and Iran has a stake in
working with Turkey at least some of the time in the complex triangular
politics emerging among Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Dilma Rousseff,
Brazil's new president, has a stake in doing something that Lula was
unable to accomplish; Brazil also has a strong incentive as a nation
that flirted with developing nuclear weapons but then renounced its
programme. Let them initiate a new round of negotiations under UN
auspices - with full backing from the US, France, Russia and other
powers concerned. At the least, it deprives the Iranian government of
its familiar US whipping boy. At most, we might succeed in halting play
on the 10-yard line and then changing the game."
'Why did the Arab League move on Syria' (Ben Wedeman, CNN)
"Against this backdrop is an across-the-board diminution of American power in the Middle East. At the end of this year the United States will end its military
presence in Iraq, and soon afterward, it will do the same in
Afghanistan. The Obama administration, with 2012 elections looming and after
several half-hearted false starts and high-profile humiliations by
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears to have given up
trying to broker real peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Above and beyond regional issues, the U.S. economy -- and thus, its
political clout -- is in decline. Increasingly, America is viewed in the
Middle East as an economically bankrupt, militarily and diplomatically
overextended, withering superpower. In short, a huge vacuum looms in the region, and Iran could be the chief beneficiary. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states are alarmed, and are eager to
cut Iran down to size. The uprising in Syria went a long way to undercut
Iran's oldest and most reliable Arab ally in Damascus, and Saturday's
vote to suspend Syria from the Arab League was an added bonus. Syria is
now isolated more than ever before, which means Iran's other allies in
the region -- Hamas and Hezbollah -- could suffer, too."
'Turkey should use its influential voice to pressure Syria' (Interview w/ Joe Stork, Today's Zaman)
What else do you think Turkey can do regarding Syria?
"Turkey has an influential voice today. [The] AK Party government is
popular in many parts of the region. ... [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip]
Erdo?an's tour in Cairo and Tunisia was very well received. We'd like to
see Turkey play a more active role, particularly with other governments
like Brazil, South Africa and India, at the Security Council. We would
like Turkey to be more forceful in its bilateral relations with those
three governments because they are currently in the Security Council. We
are also calling [for] an embargo on all military sales. As far as we
know, Turkey is not providing any security equipment to Syria and we are
glad that Turkey is prohibiting any transshipment of military goods
through Turkish airspace and ground space. We are calling on other
governments, like Russia and Iran, to do the same."
Recent posts on the Channel
-- 'When Egptian-Americans vote' by Jason Stern
-- 'Arab leaders shouldn't kill their people?' by Marc Lynch
-- 'Next challenges for Tunisia' by Leila Hilal