Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Syria’s Arab League membership is today believed to be under threat with the continuance of the popular uprising in Syria, and the al-Assad regime’s violent and brutal response to this. A well-informed Arab League source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the Arab League is set to discuss the issue of freezing Syria’s Arab League membership at the Arab foreign ministers meet in Cairo next week, particularly in light of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s continued use of violence to suppress the unarmed Syrian protesters.
The source stressed that the Arab League will take “severe resolutions against the Syrian regime, including freezing its [Arab League] membership…if it continues to delay and refuse to deal with the Arab initiative.”
The Arab League source also revealed the details behind the postponement of the League’s Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby’s visit to Damascus. This visit was initially scheduled to have taken place on Wednesday, but it was postponed until Saturday at the request of the Syrian regime following a telephone call between Elaraby and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
The well-informed Arab League informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Syria has postponed the Arab League Secretary-General’s visit in protest to his meeting with a delegation of Syrian dissidents earlier this week in Cairo.
The source stressed that this Syrian request had “shocked” the Arab League, particularly in light of the “flexibility” shown by the Arab League in meeting all the conditions set by the Syrian regime regarding this visit. These conditions included Elaraby “not announcing any Arab initiative [whilst in Syria], only meeting with Syrian officials, and not travelling outside of Damascus.”
Syria’s official news agency [SANA] had reported that “Syria on Tuesday asked the Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby to postpone his visit to Damascus for objective reasons he was informed of.”
However the Arab League source revealed that Syria had postponed this visit “in protest of Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby’s meeting a delegation of Syrian dissidents in Cairo.” The source stressed that Elaraby’s clandestine meeting with a delegation of prominent Syrian dissidents, including former Syrian MP Mamoun al-Homsi – who was a prominent member of the Damascus Spring Movement – had “angered Syrian officials…who took the decision to postpone his visit [to Syria].”
The Arab League has not publicly announced that its Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby met with a delegation of Syrian opposition figures, and has subsequently refused to confirm or deny this, or comment on the reasons behind the two-day postponement of Elaraby’s visit to Damascus. However the Arab League source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Arab League’s silence on this issue is “as a result of an agreement made between them [the Arab League and the Syrians] with the objective of clearing the air, whilst talks between Elaraby and Syrian officials [also] continued in a positive manner.”
An Arab diplomat, also speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that the Arab initiative that Elaraby is expected to present to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad includes demands for the Syrian regime to stop its policy of violence and suppression, and put in place a roadmap for reform within a realistic time-frame in order to resolve the crisis and preserve Syrian stability.
The Arab League source also revealed that “the situation in Syria, the Palestinian Cause, and Arab – Israeli violence, will all be on the agenda” of the Arab League’s meeting of foreign ministers scheduled to take place next week in Cairo. In addition to this, he revealed that the Arab League will also discuss “a number of standing items, including rejecting the US sanctions being imposed upon Syria, discussing the embargo being imposed on Syria and Sudan by the US, particularly with regards to the purchase or rental of civilian aircraft, as well as discussing the danger of Israeli nuclear armament and other Israeli weapons of mass destructions, on Arab national security.”