Arab league foreign ministers
From: Inside Story

Can the Arab League end Syria’s bloodshed?

As the regional bloc gives Syria three days to implement a peace plan, we ask what this move means for the opposition.

In an emergency meeting held in Cairo on Saturday, the Arab League made the decision to suspend Syria from all activities from November 16 until its peace plan is implemented.

But will this help end the bloodshed? How will it affect the opposition’s efforts to oust Bashar al-Assad? And what will be the Arab League’s next step?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: Ghias al-Jundi, a Syrian author and human rights activist; Ian Black, the Middle East editor at The Guardian newspaper; and Thabet Salem, a Syrian journalist and writer.

“In the past, countries which have fallen foul of the Arab consensus, Egypt I think is the most striking example, have found themselves expelled, suspended from the League, so suspension from activities sounds slightly less. I think that the mood music, if you like, of the Arab League is to treat a member state which is causing problems to itself, to its own people perhaps and to others, is to treat it like a member of a family that has gone astray.

I agree that the situation in Syria is at the outer limits of what is tolerable, but that’s still the sense that this is a pan-Arab organisation based on mutual solidarity and sympathy and the problems need to be resolved within that. So perhaps that is part of the graduated response, not to go for suspension, let alone expulsion and to give a little more time even if not much is likely to happen between now and four days’ time. But it’s a carefully balanced decision that presumably was constructed to allow the maximum number of countries to support it.”

Ian Black, Middle East editor at The Guardian