Syria agrees to Arab League observers with 'conditions'

And guess what - those "conditions" are deal breakers. New York Times:

"The conditions contained new elements that we have not heard before," Mr. Araby told reporters in Cairo. He added that even if Syria agreed to let the monitors in, the League would not immediately revoke its punitive measures. "These sanctions are in force until another decision is adopted by the Arab foreign ministers."

Since the beginning, Syria has sought to negotiate the league's proposal to send as many as 500 monitors, conditionally agreeing, but then seeking amendments to a plan that Syrian officials had said would undermine the government's sovereignty.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that Mr. Mouallem had sought small changes unrelated to the substance of the plan as well as more clarifications, including the nationalities and names of the observers. His position suggested that the amendments were more minor than Mr. Araby had implied.

"The protocol is intended to be signed soon," the spokesman, Jihad al-Makdesi, told reporters in Damascus. "The Syrian government has responded positively to the draft protocol. I am optimistic, although I await the Arab League response first."

Even if Syria agrees to monitors, it is unclear over how assertive they could be.

It is doubtful that the observers would place themselves between Assad's troops and civilians, which means the killing will continue.

The agreement to allow observers in is wholly for domestic consumption so that Assad can say that he is trying to meet the terms of the Arab League but they are being unreasonable. It won't convince the opposition, of course, but it will help keep the dwindling number of Syrians who support him from bolting. The people are weary of the conflict and the economy - even before the sanctions - is near collapse. Food is scarce as are other necessities. Markets are empty, there is little fuel, and economic activity has almost come to a standstill.

Syria can't keep going on like this. In a matter of months, Assad will have to give in or watch as riots in the streets of Damascus over the lack of food finish the job started by the protestors.

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