By Ray Fleming

THE fruits of the Arab Spring may not all yet be ready for picking; there are continuing doubts about the progress towards elections in Egypt, for instance. But there are unexpected benefits elsewhere. The unity being shown by a large majority of the Arab League over Syria must at least be partly the result of what has happened in Tunisia and Libya as well as what is still expected in Egypt. Day by day the change is showing in a variety of ways.

Yesterday King Abdullah of Jordan became the first leader to speak individually when he told the BBC, “If I were in Bashar al-Assad's shoes I would step down.” Today in Cairo members of the opposition Syrian National Council are expected to meet Arab League officials in a move which is reminiscent of the way Libya's Transitional Council started talking with international representatives while Gaddafi was still in power in Tripoli.

The comparison with the Libyan revolution should not be taken too far for the moment; but there is no doubt that the mood has changed very significantly in the sense that clearly Assad's fellow members of the Arab League have signalled that they no longer expect him to survive as Syria's leader.

The League's vote at the weekend to suspend Syria's membership was 18-2 with only Lebanon and Yemen against and Iraq abstaining.


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