The Arab League's overwhelming approval of sanctions against Syria has dealt a significant blow to the regional standing of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Sunday's vote in Cairo marks the first time in the league's 66-year history that it has imposed punitive economic and political sanctions on any of its 22 members. Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, says the move also is unprecedented because of Syria's status within the regional bloc. "This is one of the six founding members of the Arab League, and a Syria which has always championed Pan-Arabism," he says. "So to exclude Syria in effect from the Arab nation through this way I think will have probably the biggest effect on the situation.", says Voice of America.
For the Arab League, an organization long ridiculed as toothless, it was the second time since the Arab Spring protests began that it had acted against a member country to protect a threatened populace. But while the group invited international military intervention in Libya in March, this time its leaders made clear that sanctions were intended to avoid it.
The action capped a momentous week in a region that has been pummeled by a year of historic change. President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in Yemen, Libya formed a new government, Morocco elected one and Egyptians prepared to vote in their first post-revolutionary elections on Monday, reports New York Times.
Lebanon has sent mixed messages about whether it would participate in sanctions. Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said last week Beirut would not take steps against Syria, but Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Thursday his government would implement Arab League decisions, whatever its misgivings.
Bankers in Jordan and Lebanon said it would take time to assess the impact of Sunday's decision, as details were sketchy and states might implement the measures differently. "The picture is not clear but it could really make doing business with Syria very difficult," said one Jordanian banker. A leading Lebanese banker declined to comment on Sunday until he had discussed the implications with other banks, according to Reuters India.
Also Sunday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh acknowledged that 100 Syria">Syrian military and police deserters have taken refuge in the kingdom throughout the uprising. It was the first official public confirmation that Jordan hosts Syria">Syrian defectors. In September, officials said privately that Jordan had received 60 Syria">Syrian army and police deserters, who ranged in rank from corporal to colonel.
Judeh told The Associated Press that the Syria">Syrian soldiers and policemen, whom he claimed were conscripts rather than officers, had arrived in batches over the last eight months. Many Syria">Syrians fleeing President Bashar Assad's crackdown have also sought refuge in neighboring Turkey, informs eTaiwan News.
U.S. Justice Department is acting behind the scenes to have Assange extradicted from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and prosecuted in the U.S.