Arab League Intervention “Only Way Out” of Syrian Crisis

Article Summary
As the Syrian regime continues its violent crackdown on the opposition, Ali al-Ghafly makes an empassioned plea for the Arab League to stay the course, renewing the mandate of the Observer Mission and increasing diplomatic efforts. Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of foreign military intervention, the league’s peaceful, Arab-lead initiative is the only viable option for ending the crisis, he argues.

The crisis in Syria has been ongoing for ten months, with all the unfortunate repercussions that this entails, primarily because of the regime’s insistence on raising the cost of political change to painful levels that lead, on the human side, to the death of around twenty individuals per day on average, in addition to politically opening Syria up to unforeseen events, ranging from the country being torn apart by civil war, to the eventuality of international intervention, and perhaps even the current situation in Syria being dragged out into an additional year of violence and uncertainty.

Most of the details pertaining to the Syrian crisis are utterly grim and inspire nothing but despair. On the one hand, Assad’s regime continues to deceive, biding its time while it spills the Syrian people’s blood. It is also certain that Bashar al-Assad’s longwinded speech two weeks ago dashed any hopes of the regime offering any sort of constructive initiative or concession that could help the Syrian state safely navigate this period of political change.
On the other hand, [the world’s] great powers continue to fail alarmingly in dealing with the Syrian political crisis, despite the heavy human toll exacted upon the Syrian people for all to see. On the international level, it is imperative that no military intervention similar to the one that took place in Libya be undertaken; at the same time, it is essential that every necessary political and diplomatic effort be made to isolate, weaken and do away with Assad’s regime. This has not happened yet because of Moscow and Peking’s opposition to the international community’s determination to achieve these results.

Furthermore, the Syrian opposition forces’ lack of effectiveness in many important aspects has lessened its capacity to achieve the progress needed to weaken Assad’s regime. This weakness is evident in the performance [of the opposition] both politically and militarily, and in terms of its coordination between political and military efforts. [This coordination] did not materialize until the tenth month of the revolution.

It is easy for those following the Syrian crisis and those who sympathize with the human suffering that it is causing to fall into the depths of despair as they consider the [terrible] consequences of the fall of the regime, or the success of the revolution. In reality, this is exactly what Assad’s regime wants to achieve, for it possesses a long history of forcing its foes and enemies to despair, and [thus] accept the status quo. [The regime does so] through a mix [of creating dependence on its ability] to control the strategic game board, and threatening to use violence - to the point of actually resorting to violence when the opportunity arises. [It has also mastered the art of] prevaricating and stalling for time, which ultimately leads its opponents to submit to the regime’s preferred option, [the maintenance of] the status quo.

In this stagnant and costly crisis, the only important and pragmatic development of late has been the Arab League’s decision to peacefully intervene by sending an Arab Observer Mission to evaluate the interaction between state security forces and the people in Syrian cities. [Its mandate also involves] assessing to what level Assad’s regime has adhered to its commitment to withdraw the instruments of violence from [Syria’s] streets and public squares, so as to put an end to the spilling of the blood of the demonstrators demanding the ouster of the regime.

Throughout recent decades, those concerned with the study of the Arab regional order have prescribed that Arab countries must take responsibility for addressing the problems and crises faced by the Arab Nation without [recourse] to intervention by any foreign powers. This task has remained within the purview of the Arab League in its capacity as an official, regional organization. Unfortunately, most Arab problems have hung beyond the effective reach of the Arab League, while foreign powers were permitted to intervene in some of the most important crises that the Arab World has faced.

The Assad regime is using a combination of tools designed to create despair and [thus] stifle the Syrian people’s revolution. The Arab League has decided to intervene in order to deal with the crisis, and so we are now witnessing one of the rare occasions when this organization has actually stood up to deal with a critical Arab crisis. In this regard, the role played by the Arab League represents the only development with the potential to break the stalemate in the Syrian crisis and create genuine hope that it may be guided towards resolution. The Arab League must therefore remain patient and arm itself with perseverance and endurance, so that it may be able to keep pace with the Assad regime’s exhaustive attempts to thwart its intervention in the crisis.

Peaceful Arab intervention in Syria is the most realistic avenue for dealing with the crisis of regime change in that country. To this end, we must not rush the Arab League’s efforts in resolving the political and humanitarian crisis in Syria. It would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that the Observer Mission has failed and hasten to remove the crisis from the purview of this great Arab organization. Simultaneously, the league must take the proper decision to continue renewing the Arab Observer Mission to Syria for as long as it is required by the policy of peaceful Arab intervention there. Furthermore, the league must stand up to attempts intended to frustrate it and stifle its efforts, which is a tactic in which the Assad regime excels. [The league must stand firm] through a variety of innovative measures that the creative minds associated with the initiative must invent so as to increase the chances of the Arab League’s success [in addressing] the Syrian crisis.

The league must completely reject the idea of sending Arab forces to Syria, because that would signify a desperate admission of the defeat of diplomacy; [and it is diplomacy] that the Arab League must continue to conduct and to succeed in. The Arab League must exercise diplomatic pressure on Moscow and Peking. It must employ its diplomatic tools to great effect in order to influence the position of these two capitals that [currently] support the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the continuation of the deadly violence that it is inflicting on its people.

Found in: syrian crisis, syrian, foreign intervention, diplomacy, arab observer mission to syria, arab league, arab initiative for syria, arab

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