US: Syrian Offer on Crackdown Just Playing for Time

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The Syrian government has offered to accept with conditions an Arab League proposal to allow observers into the country that aims to end the regime’s bloody crackdown on dissidents, but the United States feels the move is a Syrian attempt to buy time. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that Syrian authorities have expressed a willingness to accept the Arab League’s request to allow observers into the country with “clarifications” and called for the Arab League to retract a decision to impose sanctions against the country.

The Arab League had given Syria a deadline to sign their plan or face consequences and have yet to make a formal decision on Syria’s response. CNN reported that a meeting of Arab foreign ministers has been called regarding the matter. The US, meanwhile, dismissed the Syrian step. A US State Department official, in comments to The Mideast Update, said the Syrian regime once again tried to “undermine” the Arab League plan and “buy more time.”

The US official said that last month’s Arab League sanctions resolution “sent a clear message to Assad that his neighbors will not tolerate his regime’s bloodshed.”

The League recently agreed upon a variety of sanctions on Syrian authorities and financial restrictions against the country in response to the ongoing violent repression of protesters by the Bashar al-Assad regime, which the United Nations says has killed thousands of people since March.

SANA reported that a Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters on Monday they want the Arab League steps to maintain Syrian sovereignty and respect their political system. He also claimed Syria had already taken steps to conform to League demands on bringing the crackdown to an end, although the United Nations and others have accused the regime of continuing the violence against the opposition movement.

The vicious Syrian response to what began as peaceful protests against the country’s dictatorship has drawn international condemnation and sanctions from the US and Europe, as well as the Arab League.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 7, 2011)