As massive pro-Assad demonstrations continue across Syria, Damascus has called for an emergency meeting of Arab League heads of state in an apparent attempt to avert its suspension from the regional bloc.
According to state Syrian media, millions of people took to the streets of major Syrian cities on Sunday to protest the Arab League decision to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization due to the ongoing violence in the country.
After holding a demonstration in the center of Damascus, many protesters made their way to the embassies of the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Demonstrators chanted a slogan that has become recognizable in the last few days: “Allah, Syria, Bashar!”
On Sunday, the head of the 22-member Arab League said the bloc is considering creating a mechanism for protecting Syria’s civilian population. Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi did not elaborate on the details.
According to Syria’s opposition, security forces killed 26 people across the country on Sunday.
A photo released by Syria’s official news agency (SANA) shows Syrian’s rally to show their support for their President Bashar al-Assad in Hasaka, northeast Syria, on November 13, 2011, a day after the Arab League suspends Syria until President Bashar al-Assad implements an Arab deal to end violence against protesters, calling for sanctions and transition talks with the opposition (AFP Photo / /HO-SANA)
Following the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria on Saturday, pro-Assad demonstrators attacked several foreign diplomatic offices, including Saudi and Qatari embassies, Turkish and French diplomatic outposts across the country.
France and Turkey summoned Syria’s envoys on Sunday to condemn the attacks. Paris labeled them as an attempt to “threaten the international community.”
The Arab League met in Cairo on Saturday to discuss Syrian President Bashar Assad’s violent crackdown on dissidents, which has claimed more than 3,500 lives over the past eight months according to the UN. The regional bloc gave Syria a three-day deadline to end the crackdown or face sanctions. Should Damascus fail to comply, the League will suspend its membership on November 16.
Arab ambassadors were shifted from Damascus and all political contact with the country was blocked. The League also threatened Syria with economic sanctions.
Damascus criticized the League’s decision, saying the West was trying to use it as a weapon against Syria.
In February, the Arab League suspended Libya’s membership due to the ongoing violence there, eventually helping NATO to get the backing of the UN Security Council for its no-fly zone.
Anti-government protests have been raging in Syria for the past eight months – they started in the south of the country in March 2011 and then spread to other regions of the country. In some regions the demonstrations have turned violent.
Most people in the opposition are demanding that Bashar Assad steps down. The claim is backed by the US and EU countries that have imposed a number of economic sanctions on Syria.
Political analyst Dan Glazebrook told RT that Syria should welcome possible suspension from the Arab League and labeled some of its members as “the agents of neocolonialism in the Arab World.”
The Western media is deliberately exaggerating the strength of the opposition movement, he said, portraying it as a peaceful protest against a dictator while neglecting far-bigger demonstrations in support of President Assad.
Author and journalist Afshin Rattansi thinks the conflict in Syria’s being fueled from abroad, and could drag on for some time.
“There is something very dangerous about this entire situation [[in Syria]] and it could rapidly affect Western interests,” he told RT. “What I fear and what many analysts are fearing at the moment is that Saudi backed proxy war will continue and there will be an insurgency, that fighting in Syria against the Assad government will continue to cause instability in Syria and beyond. And this will be a sort of slow burn phenomenon with the US and Europe taking a kind of back seat. We must not also forget that Turkey has been actively involved and has even told its diplomatic staff and its own citizens to leave Syria. Turkey is playing a game here too. And the media is playing a massive game – Qatar’s TB station Al Jazeera very obviously wanting the fall of Assad at the moment and the Western media too”.