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Syria: Time to freeze their membership - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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If the Bashar al-Assad regime was skilled at the game of politics it could have taught the Arab League a lesson it would not soon forget and ensnared it in its own misdeeds. This was if the Syrian regime had accepted the two-week deadline [to meet the commitments it previously made to the Arab League], as well as the formation of a new [Arab League] ministerial committee to follow-up this initiative to be chaired by Qatar. If the Syrian regime had accepted this initiative, whilst the [Syrian] opposition had rejected this, then this would have placed the Arabs, and indeed the [Syrian] opposition, in a difficult position.

However what happened was the complete opposite of this, and this is what was expected; the al-Assad regime completely and comprehensively rejected the Arab initiative, which was issued too late in any case. This is the initiative that granted the Syrian regime an opportunity it could not have dreamt of to embarrass everybody at home and abroad. It granted the Syrian regime a two-week deadline, whilst also requiring it to open dialogue with the [Syrian] opposition, under the auspices of the Arab League. By rejecting this, the al-Assad regime has wasted an opportunity, and now the Arab League has the change to teach the al-Assad regime a lesson that it will not soon forget, as well as clear its name in the eyes of the Syrian people, particularly as the al-Assad regime followed up its rejection of this Arab League initiative with a massacre in Homs.

What should happen now is that the Arab League should meet, in an urgent and immediate manner, to freeze the membership of the Bashar al-Assad regime, as well as recognize the Syrian National Council [SNC]. The voting on these two resolutions should take place in front of the cameras, not during a closed session, and be broadcast live on air, in front of the eyes of the entire Arab world. Indeed, not only should the voting be broadcast live, but also the statements and interventions [on this issue]. The Arab League members, particularly those with clear positions, should not find themselves at the mercy of the position taken by one or two Arab states, rather these states must be called on to explain their position to Arab public opinion, namely why they have decided to stand with a regime that is killing its own people.

It is up to the Arab League to take this decisive position with regards to the al-Assad regime, not out of revenge, but in order to protect the unarmed Syrian civilians who are being suppressed by the Syrian military that is armed to the teeth and which is not following even the loosest rules of war, as well as in order for the Arab League to clear its name in the eyes of the Syrian people. The Arabs must also recall an extremely important issue, which is one of the ABC’s of political action, which is that – as one Arab official told me – “no regime responds to others simply because their intentions are good and their statements are fraternal, but rather regime’s respond according to decisions and positions.” The Arabs previously attempted this fraternal rhetoric with Saddam Hussein during the occupation of Kuwait, and prior to the US invasion of Iraq, and this failed to achieve anything, rather the members of the Iraqi Baathist regime became specialists in insulting Arab officials, and accusing them of treason. This also applies to the Arab League’s failure to deal with Muammar Gaddafi, not to mention its current failure to deal with Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, as well as why it will also certainly fail with Bashar al-Assad who has repeatedly scorned and snubbed the Arab League, most recently during the speech made by the Syrian representative to the Arab League!

As we said months ago, the Arabs must freeze the Syrian membership to the Arab League, recognize the SNC, and, of course, recall their ambassadors from Damascus, particularly as the Arab ambassadors in Syria are nothing more than false witnesses. This is because none of these ambassadors offered their condolences for the Syrians who died, or even said a single word defending the people of Syria. Of course, we are not comparing them to the US, British, and French ambassadors, for this is something that is extremely advanced for some Arabs, whether this is in the Gulf or elsewhere.

What is required from the Arab League today is for it to freeze the membership of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and recognize the SNC; otherwise this represents a failure with regards to all the Syrian people who have died.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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