Syria unrest: Arab League ponders sanctions in Cairo
Damascus has been given 24 hours to sign a protocol allowing Arab League observers into the country as foreign ministers met in Cairo, ironically while the city was in the grips of its own bloody military crackdown against demonstrators.The Cairo-based Arab League called on Damascus on Thursday to agree to accept 500 Arab League observers by Friday. If they refuse to do so, Arab ministers will meet again on Saturday to decide on sanctions that could be implemented against Syria. And if the scenario turns this way, sanctions could include stopping flights to Syria, ending financial dealings with Damascus and a freeze of Syrian assets.“I don’t have any explanation for the behavior of the Arab League except one that the Arab League and majority are under the pressure and guidance of the United States of America,” suggested the director of Center for Middle East studies Hisham Jaber when talking to RT. However, he thinks that sanctions will harm Syria, but they will not be a catastrophe for the country. And they “will not collapse the regime in Syria in the next weeks or months."
Meanwhile, the latest words from the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari confirmed that Damascus had agreed to a protocol on sending an Arabic monitoring mission to Syria. “Syria has agreed fully to the protocol," he told the media on the sidelines of a meeting in Cairo. The meeting was called after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad initially refused to allow the league to deploy observers in the country. The 22-member Arab League recently voted to suspend Syria in response to its violent crackdown on the eight-month long uprising currently engulfing the country.While the United Nations estimates that some 3,500 civilians have died in the conflict, Damascus blames the violence on armed gangs and militants who, they say, have killed 1,100 security force members.Although the league claims to be opposed to any military intervention in the country, France’s proposal of humanitarian protection zones and rumors that the league itself is set to impose a no-fly zone over Syria with US logistical support are increasing the likelihood of war.Meanwhile, the Egyptian Military Council continues to refuse to step down while 39 protestors have been killed and 3,000 wounded in clashes with state security forces. The venue for the Arab league in Cairo was ultimately moved away from Tahir Square as bullets and tear gas continued to fill the air in an attempt to disperse demonstrators opposed to the ruling military junta.