Daily Israel Report

Arab League to Debate Suspending Syria

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies want Syria suspended from the Arab League as unrest in the country spirals towards civil war.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/16/2011, 2:51 PM

Arab foreign ministers are slated to discuss suspending Syria's membership in the Arab League at an emergency meeting due to be held in Cairo on Sunday, Egypt's semi-official newspaper Al Ahram reported.

The report, quoting diplomatic sources, said ministers may also consider the possibility of recognizing the newly-formed opposition Syrian National Council.

Sunday's meeting is to be held at the request of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to discuss the situation in Syria, which they described as "deteriorating badly."

"However, the new Arab stance will not reach the point of backing an international intervention in Syria," the paper quoted the unidentified sources as saying.

But some regional analysts say Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies may be willing to arm and fund the nascent insurgency being mounted by Syrian armed forces defectors even if they do not openly support outside intervention.

The GCC - comprised of the six Sunni Persian Gulf monarchies - has taken a hard-line on events in Iran-allied Syria as a means of chipping away at Tehran's regional influence. Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies accuse Iran of fomenting unrest in Shiite communities in their countries - and the region - as a means of destabilizing them.

Previously, officials in Iraq's reconstruction government accused Saudi Arabia of underwriting the Sunni terror insurgency in their country as a means of countering the Iran-backed Shiite insurgency in the country.

Observers say, in the wake of the US indicting two Iranians connected to Tehran's elite Quds Force for plotting to assassinate the Saudi envoy in Washington, motivation in Riyahd to smash Iran's axis of power in the region - which is heavily vested in the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Hizbullah terror militias in Lebanon - will almost certainly grow stronger.

The Arab League meeting comes as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem "Navi" Pillay warned unrest in Syria might erupt into civil war as a result of Assad's "ruthless repression."

At least eight people were killed yesterday as anti-government demonstrations were held across Syria to honor army personnel who have defected to join pro-democracy protests, according to opposition activists.

More than 3,000 civilians, including at least 187 children, have been killed in Syria since pro-democracy protests erupted in mid-March, the United Nations said on Friday.