The “illegitimate” decision to suspend Syria from the Arab League has received wide support from the EU and the US. Russia, however, has strongly opposed the measure, which is starting to look like another step on the road to a Libya-style scenario.
During a press conference on Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem said that “Libya's scenario will not be repeated” in Syria despite the Arab League's decision, which he called a “conspiracy that is bound to fail.”
“The Arab League vote to suspend Syria's membership was an illegitimate decision prompted by American incitement,” al-Moallem said, as cited by Al-Arabiya. He added that it was reached “under a plan announced about a month ago.”
“Syria has other cards to play if Arab states decide to become conspirators,” the Syrian FM stated.
Nevertheless, Al-Moallem says he still believes in “united Arab action” and said he would welcome Arab League officials and military and civilian observers to visit Syria this week to supervise the implementation of an Arab League roadmap for ending the bloodshed.
Meanwhile in an interview carried by a British news outlet, Jordan’s King Abdullah has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign.
Before Syria was suspended, the two sides – Assad’s regime and the Arab League committee – reached an agreement on how to stop the violence in the country. The League demanded that tanks be pulled off the streets and that a dialogue be opened with the opposition – measures which the authorities vowed to carry out.
However since agreeing to the deal, more than 250 Syrian civilians are reported to have been killed amid a bloody siege of the city of Homs.
The vote to suspend Syria came during an emergency session of the League on November 12 called to discuss Syria’s failure to end the violence. Eighteen countries supported the move while Lebanon, Yemen and Syria voted against it and Iraq abstained.
On Monday, the European Union moved to impose additional sanctions on 18 Syrian “individuals responsible for or associated with the repression and supporting or benefiting from the regime.” The statement said the EU continues to be deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Syria.
“The EU again condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing brutal repression and widespread human rights violations,” it read.
Brussels had already imposed sanctions on 56 Syrians and 19 organizations over the ongoing government crackdown on the anti-Assad uprising.
Syria has called an emergency meeting of the League in an attempt to reverse the decision which saw it kicked out of the organization. The suspension and accompanying sanctions are due to come into force on Wednesday.
Syria is the second nation to be expelled from the League this year. Libya’s suspension from the regional bloc in February was swiftly followed by a UN Security Council resolution which opened the way for NATO’s intervention in the sovereign state.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed Russia’s dismay at the League’s decision to suspend Syria.
“We think it is wrong, and it looks like a planned move,” Lavrov said. “Those who took the decision have lost a very important opportunity to redirect the situation onto a more transparent course.”
Lavrov added that a radical opposition movement in Syria had been incited to overthrow the government and said arms were being smuggled into the country for use by extremists.
Russia has repeatedly pledged to prevent a Libya-style scenario unfolding in Syria and backed up its promise by vetoing the UN resolution on Syria on October 5. The move caused outrage among the majority of the UNSC member states.
Syria was one of the founders of the Arab League, and its sudden suspension has triggered pro-Assad demonstrations in Syria and attacks on the Turkish, French and Saudi Arabian embassies in Damascus.
Commenting on the attacks on its missions, Turkey said it would take a “decisive attitude” and continue to support the Syrian people's rightful struggle for freedoms and reforms. Earlier, Turkey welcomed the decision of the Arab League.
Independent web journalist James Corbett believes that the Arab League suspension of Syria brings the West a step closer to achieving its goal of regime change in Damascus.
“With this Arab League suspension I think we see a dangerous new moment where perhaps even a military intervention is definitely on the table,” he told RT.
As Damascus is a key ally of Tehran, possible intervention in Syria would have to be seen as a “pre-strike on Iran,” Corbett explains. “Destabilization of the Syrian regime would further isolate Iran which is already surrounded by NATO forces.”