According to Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi, “the Arab plan for Syria includes the withdrawal of military forces from the streets, the immediate halt of violence, initiation of dialogue between the regime and the opposition in Cairo.”
The Syrian response came very fast. The Syrian foreign minister was quoted as saying that head of the Ministerial Committee at the Arab League, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, should have called the Syrian foreign minister to listen to the official version of the story before the committee adopts a stance that is “promoted by inciting satellite channels.”
As for members of the Syrian opposition, they are not at all satisfied with the Arab plan, for they believe that the option of dialogue is long overdue and that the main goal now is ousting, and not negotiating, with the regime.
The Arab plan is meant as a response to popular pressure rather than as a political resolution to Syria’s crisis, and comparing it with the GCC initiative in Yemen shows that what the Arab League is doing in Syria is a waste of time and is lacking the seriousness required in such a critical situation.
The Arab plan is half a solution that only serves to rid its initiators from the sense of guilt and, in fact, shows how weak they are. In addition, the plan is bound to fail and might even turn into an excuse for foreign intervention in Syria. Actually, this confused initiative on the Arab League’s part proves that there is no way out of the Syrian crisis except through the International Community.
There is no doubt that the Arab League gave Nato a free pass to Libya through approving the no-fly zone, which eventually turned into a full invasion. Now the Arab League is declaring, and with such stunning persistence, that it is foregoing its ethical and historical responsibility toward Syria and toward protecting its people from the plight of foreign intervention.
What is certain is that the Arab plan for Syria is devoid of any awareness of the gravity of the situation in Syria. The only solution is that the Arab League changes its approach and works on including the opposition as the main player in the conflict. It is so unfortunate that the Arab League ignored the main party, as well as the main crux of the problem, which is the transition of power.
The Arab League just gave the Syrian regime more time for more violence. What is more dangerous is that the Arab League is internationalizing the Syrian crisis through opening the door for excuses for foreign intervention.
It is not yet too late. The Arab League can still offer an initiative that focuses on the ouster of the regime and sets plans that prevent the hijacking of the Syrian cause.
(First published in al-Hayat on November 1, 2011 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)