Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Condemnation at the UN General Assembly

Abdullah Gul is in London for the first trip by a Turkish president in twenty three years. In an exercise of vanity, I hope that he's here mainly because of Syria, but he's probably here to talk about a number of other things, including Europe. Still, his visit coincides with Recep Tayip Erdogan's calls for Assad to step down, and also the condemnation of the Syrian regime for its brutal repression of an eight month uprising. The pressure is mounting considerably. One thing I noted with interest was that Russia and China abstained from voting against the condemnation at the UN General Assembly, and that echoes the behaviour of Arab regimes that might traditionally have supported a fellow dictatorship, but instead voted to suspend Syria from the Arab League, as was the case with Algeria and Sudan. At the Arab League vote, Iraq was conspicuous as the only country which abstained from voting, and I think that says a lot about the level of support that the regime thought it enjoyed. There is another Arab League meeting coming up, and the possibility of more sanctions looms large on the horizon.

On another note, I still think this Free Syrian Army business is a recipe for trouble. Many Syrians might disagree with me, and I'm certainly not in a position to tell anybody what to do, but it is important to approach this phase with caution. The prospect of a civil war is, at this stage, very real and has the potential to plunge the country into a dark place from which it might not emerge in our lifetimes...

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