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New Arab initiative on Syria unlikely to yield immediate results

01-26-2012 08:58 BJT

DAMASCUS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government said Tuesday that Damascus has accepted the Arab League (AL)'s request of extending the Arab observers' mission in Syria for another month.

The AL has announced a new initiative after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Sunday. The initiative urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to delegate power to his first vice president and stipulated the formation of a national unity government that should be formed within two months.

Analysts have said the fact that Syria has agreed to extend the mandate of the AL observer mission showed that Syria is not willing to shut down its communication channels with the outside world.

However, they also said the initiative, which aims to prepare for the transitional period of a post-Assad Syria, will surely meet strong opposition from the Syrian government. Therefore, it is unlikely to yield any results in the short run.


In an official statement released on Monday, the Syrian government dismissed the initiative as "flagrant interference in Syria's affairs," stressing that "the plan is outrageous and encroaches upon Syria's sovereignty."

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), the main opposition force inside the country, believed that the new initiative would offer new opportunities for the present government, giving it time to put out the "flames of revolution."

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the Turkey-based opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said that the AL initiative emphasized the end of Assad's administration, and that the SNC will not continue its dialogues with the Syrian government before Assad announces his willingness to step down.

For its part, the opposition group National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB) said it welcomed the initiative put forward by the AL.


Arab analysts pointed out that the new Arab initiative actually imitates the Yemeni approach to solving the crisis in Syria. They said the approach is a sort of compromise between the opposition's request to overthrow Assad's government and the current government's solution of ending the revolt by force.

However, analysts said, considering the current situations in Syria and abroad, the new initiative could hardly be realized in the short term.

They argued Assad still retains firm control of the army, security and intelligence agencies as well as the situation overall in Syria. Unless it allows foreign military intervention in Syria, it is very hard for the opposition to overthrow the Assad administration. In fact, analysts estimated that pro-Assad supporters in Syria still outnumber those who oppose him.

On the opposition side, the SNC called for overthrowing the current government, protecting civilians and referring the Syria issue to the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, they lack strong support.

As regards outside forces, though the United States, the European Union, Turkey and the AL all demand Assad step down, they cannot take military action against Syria in the short term.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Tuesday that "The Arab League's role in solving the Syria crisis has ended" as it decided to refer the Syria issue to the UN Security Council.


After the announcement of the new Arab solution to the crisis, the relations between Syria and the AL became tense again. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)'s decision Tuesday to withdraw its observers from Syria is a clear indication of this.

GCC members said in a statement that the decision was made because the Syrian government failed to end the "bloodshed" and implement the Arab plan. They called on the UN Security Council to use all means necessary to press the Syrian government to implement the already reached protocol.

AL Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Bin Heli said that the sending or withdrawal of the GCC countries' observers from Syria is a sovereign decision, and he stressed that the mission would still perform its duty in Syria.

Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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