Smart New Syria Strategy: Call the Monarchies’ Bluff and Make Them Do What They Are Demanding of You!

For a regime which has, as ICG put it, really inflicted so many wounds on itself (not to mention Syrians) . . . this strikes me as a very effective strategy going forward.  You corrupt, collaborationist, monarchical, brutal regimes in the region want us, Syria, to reform and transition out. . . .  OK — YOU TOO.

From our briefing at

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On September 14, the Saudi-owned London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper carried the following report by its correspondent in Cairo Salah Jomaa:

Syria proposed to the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting held in Cairo a reform program dealing with the necessity of implementing reforms in the Arab countries.  The ministers who were holding their 136th regular session refused to deal with the Syrian paper and rejected it completely.  During the meeting, the Syrian delegation had distributed the proposal to the journalists saying that the Arab League meeting had rejected this paper.  The paper calls for the lifting of the state of emergency in all the Arab countries and for the military tribunals to be annulled.  The Syrian proposal calls for the launching of a national dialogue in which all the political parties and movements would take part and that new constitutions be drafted in order to ensure the participation of everyone in public affairs. . .

The Syrian proposal calls for the adoption of new constitutions guaranteeing freedoms and ensuring the election of parliaments.  It also calls for the implementation of the democratic principles and for the freedom of the media to be protected and for the people’s right to demonstrate peacefully to be ensured.  For his part, and during a closed session, Arab League Secretary General Doctor Nabil al-Arabi had presented to the ministers the results of his last visit to Syria. . .  In this respect, an Arab diplomatic source was quoted by Asharq al-Awsat as saying:

“Al-Arabi presented his assessment of the talks which he had conducted with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and he put forward his vision in regard to the implementation of the Arab League proposal regarding Syria on the ground.  He also revealed the details of the agreement he was able to reach with the Syrian leadership in order to resolve the ongoing crisis, especially in regard to the necessity of seeing violence stopped to avoid additional bloodshed.”

[The source continued:] “Al-Arabi said that the Arab League was ready to facilitate the launching of national dialogue in Syria, adding that a specific timetable will be set for this process.  The secretary general accused the Syrian authorities of allowing the security services and the thugs to deal harshly with the popular protests, stressing the right of the Syrian people to demonstrate peacefully.  However, Syrian ambassador to Cairo and to the Arab league Youssef Ahmad denied these accusations.  He said that what was being reported in the media were baseless and unfounded stories. . .”

Nicholas Noe is the co-founder of the news translation service  This article was first published in The Mideastwire Blog on 14 September 2011; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.  Cf. “A Arab parliamentary body called on Tuesday for suspending the membership of Syria and Yemen in the Arab League to put pressure on the two countries to heed popular demands for reforms. . . .  ‘We call on the Arab states to freeze the membership of Damascus in the Arab League and urge the Arab leaders to take more active stands in that regard if the Syrian leadership did not . . . stop violence and withdraw its security forces and army . . . and form a national unity government from all political powers,’ said Tawfik Abdallah of the Arab Parliamentarians Political Affairs and National Security Committee.  Abdallah added: ‘We call on the Yemeni leadership to respond to the Yemeni people and accept the Gulf states initiative . . . or we call on the Arab League to suspend the membership of Yemen in the Arab League and all its organisations.’  Arab League officials have said on different occasions that they have not taken any decision on the crisis in Yemen as it has already been handled by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).  Some 176 Arab and international rights groups, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch, have asked the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League” (“Arab League Body Wants to Suspend Syria, Yemen Membership,” Reuters, 20 September 2011); “Do you think that Saudi Arabia would have allowed ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih to return to Yemen without US permission?” (As’ad AbuKhalil, “Salih Back in Yemen,” Angry Arab News Service, 23 September 2011).

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