By Ray Fleming

LAST Friday in this space I suggested that the day's events in Syria would tell us whether President Bashr Assad had been sincere in the peace agreements he made a few days earlier with an Arab League delegation or had just been “playing for time”.

Alas, the latter interpretation was the only possible conclusion after more killings of demonstrators took place of Friday after morning prayers and continued during Saturday and Sunday at the start of El Eid al Adha, one of the year's most important Muslim festivals.

Although the Arab League has not always been able to speak with a single voice its intervention at the United Nations at a critical moment in the Libyan crisis showed that its influence can be important.

It has now called a meeting to discuss Syria's failure to honour the agreement made last week for the end to violence, withdrawal of tanks from the streets, release of political prisoners and the opening of discussion on President Assad's reform proposals.

The options for the League are few until there is a more unified approach to the Syrian problem in the United Nations, especially on the part of Russia. It would also be helpful if Turkey would clarify its position.

In the meantime the League can help by being heard as a responsible Arab voice calling for an end to Assad's killings.


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