by our Arab Affairs correspondent
THE ARAB League has voted to suspend Syria and impose sanctions against Damascus over its alleged failure to end a government crackdown on protesters. But the Syrian government maintains that the police and security forces are only combatting armed terror gangs and that the Baathist-led popular front government is firmly committed to reform and have a dialogue with all the democratic forces in the country.
The Arab League has asked member states to withdraw their ambassadors, and urged Damascus to end violence against protesters. Eighteen Arab League member states voted at the Cairo meeting to suspend Syria, with Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voting against and Iraq abstaining.
Tens of thousands of angry Syrians took to the streets when the news broke to demonstrate their support for the government. Others attacked the Turkish embassy and those of the reactionary Arab states that voted to suspend Syria from the Arab League last weekend.
Syria’s representative to the Arab League said the decision violated the league’s charter. Youssef Ahmed told Syrian state TV that it showed the league was “serving a Western and American agenda”.
The Arab League is dominated by the Arab oil princes who worked hand in glove with Anglo-American and French imperialism in the drive to topple the Gaddafi government in Libya this year. Now many fear that the Saudis and Qataris are preparing the ground for another imperialist move to take out the Baathist government in Syria as a prelude to a massive attack on Iran.
The Saudis and the Gulf oil princes are hypocritically calling for “democratic” rights in Syria that they would never tolerate in their own feudal fiefdoms to support imperialist demands for regime-change to pave the way for another Arab surrender peace with Israel and remove Iran’s only major Arab ally in the region.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem denounced the Arab League move as a “dangerous step” and an illegitimate decision that has been encouraged by the United States. But Syria would not budge from its strong positions, al Muallem declared, adding that all plots against Syria were doomed to fail.
A “Syrian National Council” has been set up in Turkey with the support of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. So far only the puppet National Transitional Council regime in Libya has formally recognised it. It has called on the Arab League to recognise it as some sort of government in exile and it claims to represent some 60 per cent of the population.
In reality it doesn’t even represent all of the opposition. According to Osama Matar, a representative of the Committee of National Unity of Syria in Russia: “The so-called National Council that meets in Istanbul… represents only itself and for the most part its members are people engaged by the western circles at best. Among its members are people associated with western intelligence agencies who in some way direct their actions.”
An attempt at the UN Security Council to get a Libyan-style mandate for intervention against Syria was vetoed by Russia and China last month so the imperialists are turning to the Arab League to again provide an alibi for Nato intervention and regime change.
But at a televised news conference Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem warned: “Syria is not Libya. The Libyan scenario will not be repeated”.