Facing weeks of delay and inaction from the Syrian government, the Arab League has now threatened to ask the United Nations Security Council to enforce its peace plan if Syria does not agree to implement it by Wednesday.
The escalation comes after the Arab League has already suspended Syria’s membership and imposed sanctions. While Syrian officials at one point said they would consider the plan if the Arab League lifted sanctions, the league responded that this was not an option.
“There is no hope to find an exit from this crisis. We have used all possible means, (but) it is clear that there is procrastination,” said Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, speaking about Syria in an article by Iran’s Press TV.
Shortly before the Arab League’s threat, Russia sent a draft resolution to the UN calling for the international organization to take action to end violence and political unrest in Syria. The proposal did not call for sanctions, and Bloomberg reports that the US and France have criticized Russia’s proposal as too sympathetic to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
“We don’t see any alternative to a political-diplomatic resolution of the crisis in the country. Any foreign interference, given Syria’s role in regional security, can destabilize the situation throughout the Middle East. We are counting on a constructive attitude from other Security Council members,” said Alexander Lukashevich, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Syria conditionally agreed to the Arab League’s peace plan on Nov. 2, reports Reuters. The plan calls for the Syrian government to remove its troops from urban areas, allow observers to enter the country, engage in talks with opponents, and release political prisoners. Arab League officials say that the Syrian government has rejected demands to protect civilians, saying government troops are also being attacked. More than 5,000 people have died in the crackdown since it began in March.
If the Arab League seeks out international assistance, the UN is likely to move quickly to help, as it has been waiting for Syria’s Arab neighbors to ask for assistance before taking action. A request from the Arab League is likely to help avoid any vetoes by Russia or China which could stymie UN intervention, reports the Associated Press. UN-backed, foreign military intervention is unlikely to occur, as the Arab League has not yet requested it.
Mr. Assad has shown little willingness to back down in the face of mounting international pressure, reports the Kuwait News Agency. During a recent meeting with visiting Iraqi officials, the embattled president told the visiting envoys that he felt he had “positively” dealt with proposals to end violence in his country, adding it was in his and Syria’s best interest to do so.
Following the meeting, Faleh Al-Fayyadh, Iraq’s security adviser, indicated the importance of finding a solution before foreign intervention could occur.
“We have explained Iraq's position as to finding peaceful solutions that [preserve] aspirations of the Syrian people for a democratic change away from foreign intervention and sectarian sedition,” he said in a statement reprinted by Al Bawaba News.