28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Arab Spring, Syrian fall

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I recently posted about a “deal” that the Arab League had supposedly struck with President al-Assad’s Syrian government (here). It would, in effect, end the violence in Syria and encourage a dialogue between the regime and the resistance. I didn’t post a follow-up because, quite frankly, I was confused. Nobody was quite clear about who the complicit “Syrian authorities” were, what “Damascus” meant, or how anyone would go about ending a vicious cycle of violent protest and military intervention.

And as the deadline for the “agreement” passes without an invitation being extended to any Arab League overseers, it seems that “Damascus” and “Syrian authorities” were not synonymous with “President al-Assad” after all. The real Ba’athist Syrian regime, as it has made eminently clear in the past, is not interested in negotiating with what it sees as a foreign-funded militant Islamist movement—and never was. But it doesn’t really matter who did, didn’t, or may have agreed with what or whom and when (although I’m curious who the Arab League thought it was talking to), because the result is the same:

Arab League officials said Thursday that if the government of President Bashar al-Assad failed to agree by Friday to sign a protocol detailing the mission of the observers, Arab finance ministers would meet Saturday in Cairo to discuss imposing sanctions that could include halting flights to Syria, curbing trade and stopping transactions with the country’s central bank.

The new sanctions would deal a severe blow to an economy already suffering under sanctions from the European Union and the United States. Syria’s two most vital sectors, oil and tourism, which account for more than a third of the government’s revenues, have all but come to a halt.

And the purpose of the sanctions (which Turkey agrees to mirror, by the way) is clear:

“We will not give up,” said Abu Kinan, a shop owner and protester from the Midan neighborhood in Damascus. “When the Arab League imposes its sanctions, the Syrian economy will collapse, and then the business class and the middle class will join the protests to change the regime.”

Familiar? With the merchant middle class between a rock and a hard place (read: lacking the necessities of life), al-Assad’s regime will take the fall. And the USS George H.W. Bush (the only deployed Atlantic Nimitz-class supercarrier) will be inconspicuously parked off the coast of Syria (as it is now), waiting to make the transition smooth for everyone. Including Bashar.

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Written by M. James

November 26, 2011 at 2:01 am

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