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Arab League May Suspend Syria If Conditions Are Not Met
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Syria escaped being suspended from the Arab League but only by a narrow margin, according to reports. Arab foreign ministers met in an emergency meeting in the League's headquarters in Cairo, Egypt to discuss the continuing crisis in Syria related to the bloody and ruthless crackdown by President Bashar al Assad against protestors in that nation. Several human rights groups have also expressed grave concerns about conditions in Syria with ongoing reports about torture and mass murders being committed.

The Arab League, comprised of twenty two nations, met after several member nations proposed suspending Syria for continued human rights violations. The League also hoped to press President al Assad to step down from power, a move he has been constantly and loudly resistant to making. The Foreign Ministers met for nearly three hours in a closed door meeting without any representation from Syria. After a brief recess, they met again, this time bringing in the Syrian diplomat to discuss possible sanctions and plans.

Following the conclusion of that meeting, Hamad bin Jassim, the Foreign Minister from Qatar, discussed some of the details from that meeting but made no mention of a Syrian suspension. Instead, bin Jassim reported that Syria now has fifteen days to effect a ceasefire within its borders. In addition, the Arab League will create a special committee which is to be led by representatives of Qatar. That committee is meant to oversee a proposed dialogue between Syria's current regime's officials, the opposition and others outside of Syria that believe that the Syrian people would be better served if al Assad was removed from power. The Arab League will reconvene for an emergency meeting if either the ceasefire or the dialogue do not happen as scheduled.

To have effected the suspension, two thirds of the twenty two nations would have had to have been in favor of that action. Only six were openly in favor of suspending Syria at this time, including Saudi Arabia, the country that was notable or making the initial push. Saudi officials also wanted the Arab League to recognize the Syrian National Council, the opposition's government. Even without support for the suspension, most of the Arab nations have already recalled their ambassadors from Syria at this point.

Sudan, Algerian and Lebanon are among the nations that were vehemently opposed to the suspension. In addition, Yemen, whose leadership is under the same pressure from protesters, is also against the suspension. Only one nation, Egypt, did not express where it stands on the issue for now.

Libya, in the process of rebuilding after a regime change, was suspended from the Arab League briefly after protests turned violent in that nation. With most of the pro-Gadhaffi forces reportedly pinned in one small area of Libya and the former ruler in hiding, the new regime's leadership was recognized and Libya's membership into the Arab League was reinstated.


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