With 18 countries in favor, the Arab League agreed to suspend Syria in a vote on Saturday, and warned Damascus it could face political and economic sanctions if it does not end its crackdown. The suspension, which will go into effect on Wednesday unless Damascus takes steps to end its deadly assault, comes on the heels of a failed Arab League deal signed on November 2 in which Syria agreed to pull its troops from the streets, release political prisoners, and hold talks with opposition groups.
But even after that deal, not to anyone’s surprise, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad continued his killings, with over 250 civilians murdered since the start of November alone, bringing the death toll in Syria inching towards 4,000 people.
The Arab League
In response to its upcoming suspension, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Monday that the League took “an extremely dangerous step” and that he is confident Russia and China will continue to block efforts against Syria at the UN. Indeed, on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov re-confirmed Moscow’s support for the current Syrian regime, noting that Russia is opposed to Syria’s suspension from the Arab League. China, on the other hand, was not as resolute, stating that Syria must implement the Arab League’s peace plan.
The Arab League’s move is fueling speculation that, as in Libya, a vote to suspend the country in crisis will be used to prop-up some type of Western intervention. Until then, a resolution at the UN and harsher economic sanctions would be the next best step, and countries pushing for such action must now use the Arab League’s suspension to shame China and Russia for supporting Asad the Murderer. The duo will only be able to hold out for so long as the Syrian regime continues down its path of destruction, and China already seems to be faltering.