The Arab League’s decision and policy on Syria could change a lot in the Middle East

November 25, 2011, Friday/ 12:37:00/ MEHMET ŞAHİN

The Arab League, which was established in 1945 and hasn't/couldn't have signed almost any agreement leading to severe consequences since then, made its biggest decision ever causing to an effect by suspending Syria's membership to the League.

Although Arab League's aforesaid decision on Syria is directly related to Syria, the fact that it is a decision that could shape/change the Middle East policy beyond this in respect of its potential consequences will be understood better in the forthcoming days. 

What will be the possible consequences of the Arab League's decision on Syria?

1- With this aforesaid decision, the Arab League will further encourage anti-Assad opponents. As a matter of fact, it is clearly seen from the fact that conflicts across Syria have risen following the decision of the Arab League.    

2- More and more people and groups, who were Assad supporters or who could not have explicitly stood out against the Assad Government, will more rapidly draw away from the Assad Government after the League's decision. Thus, the ground for a rapid dissolution of the Assad coalition has been prepared.           

3- As the Arabs' attitude has not become clearer yet, in regional and international fields, it will be easier for the countries without any clearer attitudes towards the Assad Regime to adopt an attitude towards the Assad Regime, after the decision of the League. As a matter of fact, following the decision of the League, the voices of both the regional and international fields have gotten louder against Assad.     

4- The Arab League's decision considerably relieved Turkey, who already made her policy against Assad clear. Thanks to the decision of the League, Turkey got rid of giving an impression of being the only country implying pressure on Assad.      

5- At the same time, the Arab League also proved that it stands behind the change / transition in the region by taking a stand supporting the “Arab Spring”, with this aforesaid decision.  

6- With its decision, the League shows that it has started to change also in terms of its position and mentality since its establishment. The Arab League, which was close to the Eastern Bloc when it was established on the basis of Arab Nationalism and anti-Westism on 1945, has shown in its attitude against Assad that it will no longer follow policies in the axis of Russia and China; instead it will follow West-centered policies. The League put forward its new mentality, with the new position it has taken. The League's new approach will also pave the way for the integration of the region to the global system both in political and economic terms.        

7- Despite being one of the 22 members of the Arab League, Syria has acted rather alongside Iran as in 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, except for the Israel/Palestine issue. With this aforesaid decision, the Arab League has paved a way for drawing Syria away from Iran, as well as making her a member of the Arab Community. And this situation shows that the decision of the Arab League should be considered not only as a decision against the Assad Regime, but also as a decision against Iran and her regional policies.        

8- From now on, Russia and China, which will be considering the regional influence of the Arab League's decision, will cut the credit they gave to Assad up till today. These countries, which will be considering their own interests in the wide Arab geography, will certainly be prepared to sacrifice Assad.  

9- As a matter of fact, the Arab League's decision is an explicit indicator of the fact that the Arab world has already entered in a period of change. It is seen that, now the Arab League has just entered in the guidance of leaders close to the Western world and under the influence of the Arab Spring; while the League used to witness the shows of force of Nasser, Assad, and Gaddafi in the past. It could easily be suggested that the League will hereafter play a considerable role in the transition of the Arab Middle East. The first sign has been seen on Syria. It will legitimize the policy it has been conducting against Syria by doing so in cooperation with the Arab League.          

10- Across the Arab world, the legitimacy of the Assad Regime, which is considered to be standing by Iran, will be lost with every passing day.  

11- The Arab League's decision against the Assad Regime will also create an influence on decreasing the imperialist image of the West, of the U.S. in particular.

»» Assoc. Prof. Mehmet ŞAHİN, ORSAM Middle East Advisor, Gazi University, Department of International Relations