What’s next for Syria? The Arab League has done the needful by suspending Damascus membership, and unequivocally castigating it for alleged human rights excesses.The question is will President Bashar Al Assad follow suit and order his uncanny administration to behave? This is so because the president is on record saying that he had in principle agreed to the terms and conditions of a thaw with the 22-member Arab League, and was in the process of instituting reforms and ensuring that civilians are spared from the ongoing crackdown. That’s the reason Assad criticised the League’s move of suspending its membership and called it as an attempt to jump the gun. How and what will be the status quo from this point beyond. As far as the instant reaction of Damascus is concerned, it seems to be digging its heels and that is squarely evident from the clashes that have broken out in the capital. The reported vandalising of foreign missions, especially those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a worrisome equation, and goes on to establish that the dispensation in Syria is either unrelenting or is literally unconcerned as to what the international community is worried for.
The 18 votes that came its way for suspending the membership should serve as an eye opener for Assad. He has no option but to closely study as to what the Arab League and for that matter the West, and moreover his own people, demand from him. It is conveniently an aspect of handling a bad situation, which has been further aggravated with the iron-hand tactics that the Baath party employed in an adverse geopolitical environment. The killing of more than 3,000 people, even to go by government estimates, in an era of Arab Spring elsewhere is a blot on the face of Damascus and the so-called progressive dispensation of Bashar Al Assad.
The League’s demand to halt violence and sending back troops into barracks is legitimate enough. Assad should have faith in the political process that he says he has initiated and his overtures to the opposition in and out of the country be made workable. The League by deciding on the secretarial front may have exhausted its trump card, but diplomacy is in wanting to make Assad fall in line, and ensure that the situation on ground improves.
The ball is still with Assad and he has one of the rare opportunities to evolve a new working relationship with his own people and the regional allies. To his credit, none are demanding him to step down and the West will be the last entity to do so taking into account his personified strategic equation with Iran, Lebanon and the region at large. Damascus should give an ear to reason before it gets too late. Khaleej Times