Syria is too important to be left to Bashar Al-Assad to do as he pleases there. The people of Syria are our brothers and they cannot be abandoned at the mercy of a brutal ruthless regime. I was never optimistic about the Arab League (AL) initiative because “revolutionary” regimes, or those that claim to be, view negotiations and initiatives as tools to serve their interests in all phases. They do not view them as a forum to air differences or a middle ground solution to polar opposites, but instead as an opportunity to win new territory or avoid losing ground that is about to be lost. Accordingly, accepting the Arab initiative was only a manoeuvre to recover some legitimacy after most of it had dissipated, and to buy some time to thwart the revolution or weaken it in preparation for its slaughter.
Neither option is possible now. The Syrian regime was hasty in immediately using force, or perhaps the revolution did not give it an opportunity to manipulate the Arab initiative. Now that Assad has breached the agreement with the Arab League, there is no recourse but to treat him the same as Libya, whereby Syria’s membership of the Arab League is suspended and a firm position is taken against the Syrian regime by leading states, especially those who border the country, by assisting the people of Syria to stand up to this violence and brutality.
It is important that this takes place quickly; we need strong Arab input in order to block any need for NATO interference, although NATO is not now prepared to open up a new front. Russia and China could convince Damascus that the Arab position reflects an international consensus.
Putting pressure on Assad should be accompanied by an opportunity for him, his family and regime to leave Syria while there is still time. Although this is blatantly unjust for those who were detained, tortured, killed, or all of the above, because no one will be held accountable for these deeds, it will, however, save thousands from the same fate. It may, therefore, be a reasonable price. Nonetheless, Bashar and his unsavoury crew will not be forgiven in the court of history.
Refusal means deferring the matter to the International Criminal Court and imposing sanctions, but also uniting the Syrian opposition under the umbrella of the Arab League. It is vital that the Syrian regime feels that time is not on its side, and that playing for more time will not prolong its hold on power but increase retribution. What can we do with a regime that does not heed the lesson?