Syria’s failure to deal with the initiative of the Arab League will force the latter to take measures that it is incapable of implementing. The Arab League threatened to impose economic sanctions on the Syrian regime, but no one is able to translate this threat. Even the United Nations failed to implement the economic sanctions resolution on Saddam Hussein’s regime although several Western countries were supporting this resolution.
If Arab countries impose economic sanctions on Syria, this will mean the creation of a black market whose victims will basically be the Syrian citizens, who are already suffering from shortages of fuel and foodstuffs as a result of the deteriorating security situation.
There is some lack of transparency on the part of both the Arab League and the Syrian opposition, with each of them vehemently denying having called for foreign intervention. However, we all know that the situation in Syria might last for years if it is not resolved through foreign intervention. In addition, the Arab League initiative hinted at the possibility of resorting to international organizations. There is no solution to the Syrian crisis without intervention, but standing half-way is sheer stupidity.
The Arab League should not adopt idealistic approaches that it cannot stick to and it has to adhere to its powerful initiative and to move to a clear solution that is not tainted by mystery. It also has to start negotiating with the International Community about a solution that guarantees the effective participation of Arabs in the resolution of the Syrian crisis. Without doing so, accusations that the Arab League is funded by foreign powers will gain ground.
Some Western capitals as well as Ankara and Tehran and even Moscow are now talking about Syria being dragged into a “civil war.” The attack on the headquarters of the Syrian intelligence prompted to Turkey’s warnings that creating a no-fly zone on its borders with Syria was likely. All the parties involved are acting in a way that shows an anticipation of the Arab initiative reaching a dead end and through this opening the door for other countries, on top of which is Turkey, to play a direct role in the Syrian scene.
The forms of intervention in Syria may vary, but it is definitely coming. Turkey will replace NATO, but it is waiting for the green light to do so. That is why Arabs should not allow Ankara to become the sole player in the Syrian scene like they abandoned Iraq to Iranian hegemony.
Nobody is asking Arabs to mobilize troops on the Syrian borders, but they need to play the role that Turkey is currently preparing to assume.
(The writer is Editor-in-Chief of AlArabiya.Net. This article was first published in al-Hayat on November 21, 2011 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)