As a move to increase international pressure on President Bashar al-Asad, the Arab League decided to suspend Syria for its failure to put an end to the bloodshed caused by brutal government crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters. The Arab League has said it has given Syria a three-day deadline to end its crackdown or face sanctions. If Syria fails to comply, the suspension would take effect on November 16. The decision, which came after a meeting of Arab ministers in Cairo, also included the implementation of economic and political sanctions on Syria over its failure to stop the violence. The league also called on its member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus and threatened to recognise the Syrian National Council (SNC).
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the Qatari Prime Minister, said that 19 member countries voted in favour of the measure. Tunisia, the first Arab country to start a revolution and to overthrow its president, had its first free and democratic elections on October 23rd in order to draft a new constitution and name a new government. Different political parties expressed different opinions about the suspension. Some expressed their support, while others expressed their disapproval.
Ennahda, winning the plurality of seats in the assembly, 89 seats, expressed their support of the decision. Ali Laarayidh, member of the executive office of the moderate Islamist party, told Tunisia Live that “We can only condemn the massacre that is happening in Syria. We support this decision because it will increase the pressure on the Syrian government. We cannot ask for more from the league. We know that the Syrian government will not be influenced by this decision, however, it will enhance the Syrian people’s will and determination to enjoy a free democratic country.” He added “We know exactly what the Syrian people are going through, we only hope that the Syrian revolution will succeed.”
Samir Ben Amor, member of the executive office of the Congress for the Republic (CPR) (the second major force in the constituent assembly), thinks that the decision made by the Arab League is insufficient. According to Ben Amor, ”It was a positive move but it is not enough.” He continues “The Arab League should have imposed immediate sanctions or suspended Syria right away, if they wanted to send a strong message to Syria… the Syrian people are dying everyday, Bashar al-Asad is a criminal.” Mohamed Benour, the spokesperson of Ettakatol (the fourth largest voting bloc in the constituent assembly), also shared the same opinion, stating “this is an important move but it is not enough, this decision will not change anything, the Arab League needs to take serious measures.”
Othman Belhaj Amor, secretary-general of the movement Harakt al-Baath (the movement of Baath), a pan-Arab and a socialist party, had a different opinion. He claimed that the Arab League should not be taking sides in Syria’s internal conflict, “We do not care about the Arab League because they only serve their own agenda, I think that their decision will only aggravate the crisis in Syria, we reject and condemn this decision… instead of suspending Syria, they should have tried to seek a peaceful solution between the Syrian opposition and Bashar al-Asad’s regime.” He adds “we cannot respond to violence with violence, besides, Bashar’s regime still has its supporters so they should also put pressure on the opposition. The future of Syria is in jeopardy because of possible western intervention. This will lead to chaos and corruption just like the situation in Lybia.”
Similarly, Harakt al-Chaab (People’s Movement), expressed a similar opinion about the League’s decision. Mohamed Brahimi, a general coordinator of the movement, said “this decision will only complicate the situation, this is not a wise decision, Syria now is in need for a peaceful solution… this will not serve the benefit of the Syrian people.” He added, “Syria is in a strategic location, complicating the situation in Syria will endanger world peace.”
Tunisia, the first Arab country to overthrow a dictator and enjoy free democratic elections, is now supporting other nations’ will to get rid of a regime that is killing its own people and fight and sacrifice everything for their freedom. It is doing this within a lively debate and disagreement on the subject.