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Arab League Holds Firm on Syria; Assad's Support Drops
November 16, 2011

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Syria is definitely out of the Arab League, and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's friends list is certainly dwindling.

The 22-member league went ahead with its planned suspension of Syria, rejecting the country's please for a summit to reconsider and giving Assad just three days to fall in line with a League-brokered peace plan or face growing consequences, including a League delegation that would monitor compliance on an ongoing basis. Although the Arab League has no standing army or any real political power, the suspension means that Syria could lose the support of many of the members of the League, leaving it further isolated.

China and Russia have so far been in Syria's corner in the United Nations, voicing their intention to veto any Security Council resolution authorizing either a no-fly zone or the use of force, both strategies used successfully against Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi. But spokespeople for China and Russia have issued closely guarded statements in recent days hinting at a change in strategy in the wake of Syria's continued adherence to violence to stop the protests against Assad's authoritarian rule. Human rights estimate that the death toll since mid-March has topped 3,500.

France has recalled its ambassador from Damascus, the Syrian capital, and other countries could soon follow suit. A major Saudi official has said that Assad's departure is inevitable. Other countries have threatened economic and political sanctions. Western officials are discussing the freezing of international assets. Even Iran, Syria's closest ally, has made statements urging Assad to talk to opposition leaders.

The opposition, in the form of a group calling themselves the Free Syrian Army, have gained access to weaponry and have launched an attack on a government military installation. The Syrian government, which still enjoys support from the majority of the military and the population at large, has claimed for months that the opposition has been aided and abetted by outside influences; but until now, the opposition has had little in the way of warfare weaponry with which to fight against tanks, guns, and armored vehicles in the streets of the country's major cities.



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