Posted by Joshua on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Syria rejected an Arab League proposal calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and advanced elections to form a “national unity government.” The Arab League plan results from the deep divisions within the Arab League about how to deal with Syria. Firm action is prevented by the split between the two main camps within the League. The Iraq, Algeria, and Lebanon camp does not want to see foreign intervention. The Gulf camp led by Qatar is eager for intervention and a tougher international line on Syria.
But even within the Gulf, important disagreements have opened up. The Emir of Qatar has spoken out in favor of Arab military intervention. Saudi Arabia is not so keen on this idea. It has to deal with the glass house factor. the Saudis are queasy about a precedent for military intervention by the Arab League being set to promote democracy. What about Bahrain or even the Shia of the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia who have been demonstrating for change and the overthrow of the Saudi household?
Arab League calls for Assad to step aside, without the credible threat of foreign intervention, will not change much. Assad remains confident that he can contain if not beat the opposition. The UN is as divided over Syria as is the Arab League. No country is eager to lead a military intervention in Syria. Syria has become a hot-potato. International organizations are turning to each other, drawing a long face of horror over the Syrian situation and saying, “Do something. You first.”
‘The Arab League to Syria’s President: It’s time for you to go’ (Rania Abouzeid, Time)
“But instead of diplomatic politesse, proceedings were thrown into disarray after Saudi Arabia, stepped out of the background role it has played so far in the Syria crisis, to forcefully push for an end to the Syrian government’s ferocious crackdown against its opponents. For months, Qatar has taken the lead on Syria. In a move that likely persuaded other countries, especially Gulf states, to take a stronger line against Damascus, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told his counterparts that his country would withdraw its observers from the much-criticized League monitoring mission in Syria due to the continued shedding of “blood that is dear tous all.”"
(Comment by JL) But Saudi did not second the Emir of Qatar’s call for Arab military intervention, an indication that it is weak on Syria. While in Saudi Arabia last week, I had the opportunity to quiz a well placed prince on this issue. He said that Saudi Arabia did not know what was motivating the Emir of Qatar to be so out-spoken on Syria but that Saudi Arabia would not participate in or encourage Arab military intervention in Syria. President Obama would find it very difficult not to back up the Arab League or Turkey if either led military intervention in Syria. NATO as well. But the UN cannot lead without a Russian “Yes” vote in the Security Council, and the US will not do so on its own. Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal from the Arab League monitoring mission is not an expression of its desire to lead, its interest in making a “forceful push” on the issue, or that it is “stepping out of its background role” on the Syria crisis, I suspect.
From a Friend in Damascus
With syp hitting 74, prices will soon go insane. Impossible for many to make ends meet. Even extended family members are running out of money by the 10th of every month. This military regime is very hard, if not impossible, to bring down. When it comes to people’s lives….simply forget it. A total meltdown. Everything has doubled in price in less than a year. Totally unprepared these guys were and are.
بانوراما العربية: الدكتور برهان غليون، الأستاذ سمير عيطة Al-Arabiyya Ghalioun and Samir Aita discuss the Free Syrian Army and armed resistance in Syria
Syria to Start Managed Float of Currency Next Week, Central Bank Head Says
By Massoud A. Derhally – Jan 20, 2012 7:02 AM CT
Syria’s Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh. Photographer: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
Syria will introduce a managed float of its currency next week, central bank Governor Adib Mayaleh said. The move will allow the pound to devalue after demand for foreign currency drove a surge in black-market rates.
“We will have a partial managed float, allow the rate to be determined by the market and intervene when necessary,” Mayaleh said in a phone interview from Damascus today. “If we see a rate, like that of 70 pounds now, which I don’t like, then we will intervene, and next week there will be a positive intervention by the central bank with the injection of foreign currency into the market.”
The pound traded officially at about 47 to the dollar before the start of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in mid-March. As the uprising spread, the central bank raised the rate to about 54 pounds in December and 57 pounds early this month. The currency traded at as much as 70 pounds per dollar on Syria’s black market this week.
Adib Mayaleh, the central bank governor, told the FT (behind paywall) the exchange rate had “jumped a lot of steps” and they needed to control it. ….Syrian oil minister, Sufian Allaw, said sanctions were biting: “We have suffered important losses as a result of our inability to export crude oil and petroleum products.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan, the first Arab leader to urge President Assad to step down, sat down with Margaret Warner Thursday to discuss his expectation of more killings in Syria, the Arab League’s role in quelling unrest there as well as the latest …
“The problem with Syria — and we’ve been here in Washington for a few days talking to our colleagues here. And I’ve been in interaction with my colleagues around the world and the Middle East — nobody has an answer for Syria. And that is the most disturbing thing.”
… “And so, if I can predict what will be happening over the near future, again, the relationship between the Arab League and the U.N. on how to take it to the next step, understanding from our experience last year that, when the Arab League comes together as a bloc and makes a decision, it’s much more easier for the international community to then move to the next phase.”
Charlie Rose: … there is a sense that … Iran is supplying the Syrians with weapons…
Mohammad Khazaee: …You know, Charlie, on Syrian issue, we follow our principles. The first point is that we believe that government should listen to their people. We have made it clear. ….Second, we do not, and we have not sent any arms to Syria. …
Mohammad Khazaee: ….we have some evidences that arms have been sent by … France, to Syria to support the militia group and opposition groups ….
Joel asked me, “why Iraq and Syria have improved relations so much after Damascus was one of the main supporters of the insurgency?” My answer:
- Because of the US presence and influence in Iraq. Both Iran and Iraq tried to push the US out of the region, when the US threatened both from Iraq. President Bush had an ambitious plan to reform the Greater M. E., which included pushing Syria out of Lebanon and ultimately regime-change in Damascus.
- Negotiating tactic. Once the US was on the ropes in Iraq, Syria moderated its support of the insurgency in an effort to convince the US to make a trade: the reduction of US sanctions against Syria and rekindling negotiations over Golan and Lebanon in exchange Syrian help in Iraq.
- Now that the US is out of Iraq and the Syrian revolution is under-girded by a Sunni insurgency in Syria, Damascus no longer has an interest in supporting the Sunni militias across the boarder. Both Iraq and Damascus have the common goal of suppressing Sunni militias and supporting Iran.
The Middle East is today experiencing a twofold upheaval of immense proportions: a dramatic acceleration of climate change, water shortages, urban growth, environmental degradation, persistent economic and resource imbalances, and population explosions that coincide with wars, invasions, foreign interventions, civil and religious strife, and mass uprisings. And the longue durée is now exerting its influence on Iraq.
The livelihood of Iraqis is overly dependent on a state that is entirely reliant on a single resource. Agriculture has effectively collapsed; the great river systems of Mesopotamia have shriveled; trade routes based on Iraq’s unique geography have vanished; and transport links have atrophied. Merchants and entrepreneurs are merely recyclers of state-owned and state-generated wealth and a previously open and culturally and religiously accommodating society has been replaced by beleaguered communities locked in laagers.
The Arab successor states to the Ottoman Empire have all proved to be unstable, prone to violence and easy targets of foreign intervention and control. Left unchecked, Iraq will remain hostage to the turbulent region in which it finds itself — and to the price of oil.
BEIRUT, (Reuters) – The leader of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood said world powers should pile diplomatic pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and he called for a no-fly zone and “safe zones” to be set up to help the Syrian leader’s opponents.
Mohammad Shaqfa told Reuters that the Arab League, which has sent monitors to assess Syria’s implementation of a plan to end 10 months of violence, should press the U.N. Security Council to take “deterrent measures” against Assad….
Pledge of solidarity with the Revolution by 106 Alawi, Syrians – half women. On Syria Politic
Russia warns West it risks war over Syria, Iran – January 20, 2012
MOSCOW: The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has warned outside encouragement of anti-government uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa could lead to ”a very big war that will cause suffering not only to countries in the region but also to states far beyond its boundaries”.
Mr Lavrov’s annual news conference on Wednesday was largely a critique of Western policies in Iran and Syria, which he said could lead to a spiral of violence.
He said Russia would use its position on the United Nations Security Council to veto any UN authorisation of military strikes against forces loyal to the government of Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad.
Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus, Chairman of the Kurdish Future Movement’s Office of General Communications:
»While a people’s revolution is taking place throughout Syria, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference is arguing and struggling over money«
KURDWATCH, January 19, 2012—Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus (b. 1962, married, four children) is the chairman of the Kurdish Future Movement’s Office of General Communications. The engineer lives in Syria. In a conversation with KurdWatch, Shaikhmus speaks about the Future Movement’s political work following the death of its speaker Mishʿal at-Tammu. [Read the interview]
Qatar: Kingmakers in Syria? by Jason Pack and Shashank Joshi