Op Ed: Threat of sanctions fails to deter Syria

The Syrian government appeared to have again accepted in principle an Arab League plan to send an observer mission to Syria, even as a three-day deadline set by the League for the government to end its crackdown on protesters expired yesterday. There is no sense of optimism, since the Syrian government had accepted a League plan earlier this month, but the government of Bashar Al Assad failed to stick to it.

The plan itself was very modest, and based on creating mechanisms by which the government might start talking to its people. It seeks a commitment from the government to end the killing, to allow foreign journalists to work freely in the country, to release prisoners recently detained, the withdrawal of all military equipment from Syrian cities, and an agreement that government-opposition dialogue should start within two weeks.

But, sadly, not only does the Al Assad government seem to be reluctant to find a peaceful solution to Syria’s deepening crisis, but the Arab League does not give the Arab world at large much confidence, as it has been moribund for several years, offering no leadership in the region despite the many problems that needs political answers. This weekend at least 17 people were killed by government forces, adding to the shocking 3,500 who have died since the protests started in March. The Syrian government still insists on blaming the protests on armed gangs and militants. This kind of nonsense is no way to find a political solution.

The Arab League suspended Syria on November 12, and had later given Al Assad three days to agree to its plan or face sanctions. The Syrian government does not appear to be worried about this, despite the country sliding into civil war. It presumably has made its calculation that it wants to try and contain the growing protest movement with armed force.

Source: Gulf News


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