Arab League suspends Syria mission
The Arab League has suspended its monitoring mission to Syria due to the massive increase in violence against civilians unleashed by President Assad's forces.
The increase in violence appears to have been planned. Perhaps it was to elicit the exact response given by the Arab League -- that they will leave Assad to deal with his domestic uprising in his way. With Russia and China running interference on the Security Council for the Syrian tyrant, there is no chance of foreign intervention.
The Arab League took the decision days after calling, unsuccessfully, for Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.
The rising violence in Syria took a dramatic turn this week when rebels seized three Damascus suburbs. On Saturday the army launched an offensive against them, leading to intense fighting.
"Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence ... it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria pending presention of the issue to the league's council," Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.
Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss early next month the possibility of withdrawing monitors completely, a League official said, but added that the secretary general could pull monitors out at any time if necessary.
"Syria regrets and is surprised at the Arab decision to stop the work of its monitoring mission," state channel Syria TV cited a government official as saying.
"This will have a negative impact and put pressure on (Security Council) deliberations with the aim of calling for foreign intervention and encouraging armed groups to increase violence," the official added.
The Arab League mission was sent to observe Syria's implementation of a League peace plan, but the level of violence remained high and there was no sign of a let-up in the crackdown on unrest by Assad's forces.
At least 135 have been killed over the last two days - 47 of them in what is becoming known as the "Sunni Massacre." This kind of sectarian bloodletting is the most immediate danger as tensions are high in cities like Homs and Hama where the sects live closely together.
Refugees are starting to become a problem in next door Lebanon and Turkey as well. With more defections from the army, it seems only a matter of time before that trickle of refugees becomes a flood trying to escape the inevitable civil war.