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The Libyan Revolution officially started on February 15, 2011 and the Arab League on March 12, 2011 unanimously endorsed a UN-backed No-Fly Zone to be enforced by NATO.

It took exactly 25 days between the first day of Revolution in Libya and the Arab League action to save the Libyan people.

The Syrian Revolution started officially on March 15, 2011 and 311 days later, the Arab League is still whistling in the wind.

25 days for Libya to save it, 311 for Syria and no hope in sight.

King Abdullah of Jordan gave an interview to PBS Newshour in which he said: “The problem with Syria — and we’ve been here in Washington for a few days talking to our colleagues here. And I’ve been in interaction with my colleagues around the world and the Middle East — nobody has an answer for Syria. And that is the most disturbing thing.”

The truth, though, lies in another statement he made when he said: “And so, if I can predict what will be happening over the near future, again, the relationship between the Arab League and the U.N. on how to take it to the next step, understanding from our experience last year that, when the Arab League comes together as a bloc and makes a decision, it’s much more easier for the international community to then move to the next phase.

It’s not that no one knows what to do about Syria, it is that some member states in the Arab League are blocking a UN-mandated No-Fly Zone for Syria.

Article 6 of The Arab League Charter of March 1945 clearly states that any aggression against a member State (In this instance, the Arab League is facilitating that aggression with a decision of No-Fly Zone rather than participating in the aggression, which would be far more difficult given how the Charter is written), must be approved unanimously by the remainder states. 

The question is: Who is protecting the Assad regime inside the Arab League and why? 

I believe there are seven main players blocking a No-Fly Zone against Assad: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has two reasons: The Shia in the Eastern Province and neighboring Bahrain in addition to not setting another precedent of a military operation the Saudis may regret if they had to face a similar fate. 

Qatar’s reason has to do with the fear it has of Iran and Syria should NATO fail in its mission. The Emir bold statement on 60-Minutes is intended to soften their image amongst Arabs since the Qataris know well the consensus in the Arab League does snot exist to mount an Arab military operation.  

Bahrain, with a similar structure to Syria where a minority oppresses a majority, does not wish to enrage Iran or face a similar fate as Assad.

In Oman, the Omani King has a friendly disposition towards the Iranian regime and has been successful in maintaining neutrality and an equidistant position from all parties.

Yemen coattails the Saudis.

Lebanon because of Hezbollah’s threats. 

Iraq because the Maliki Government has an interest in Assad remaining in power.

When the Arab League voted to suspend Syria’s membership on November 12, 2011, Yemen and Lebanon objected while Iraq abstained.

Without the first baby step of approving a No-Fly Zone by the Arab League, the killing will continue. Remaining still is a UN vote, the Russian belligerence, the US sunset stride, and NATO’s preparedness.

Unless Turkey is attacked by Assad, which will involve NATO without any UN approvals, Syrians are in for a very deadly and long ride thanks to the Arab League. 


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