The Arab League has historically not been of great benefit to the Arab people. However, its decision to broker a ceasefire with the Assad regime on November 2nd–the success of which many rightly doubted–and its recent suspension of Syria’s membership from the league are significant–if not watershed–moments. I only hope that this measure will serve to halt the violence which is spiraling out of control. I fear that after months of killing Syrian activists–some of whom are armed–the regime is having trouble relinquishing power. Like all dictatorships, the regime would rather see the world burn than step aside.
I will not delve into a Foucaultian discussion of the regime’s deterioration or the numerous human rights violations that have taken place under its watch. I merely want to bring to attention the irony of indefinitely ejecting Syria–the locus of Arab Nationalism–from the Arab League. I have often wondered what the Syrian ideologues, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar, would do if they witnessed the failure of their nationalist agenda after the 1967 war, and its recycling by the Assad regime into a means to control their people through propaganda and isolationism. Syria’s suspension from the Arab League is proof that even the ideology into which it indoctrinated its people–namely that Syria is the last bastion protecting the Arabs before its Israeli and American foes–has been nullified by the Arabs themselves.
Like many Arab intellectuals, I too have faith that one day Arab societies will exit the era of ideology and dictatorship and enter an era of multiple, legitimate political parties. Between us and that day, unfortunately, is a long path covered in blood. My heart goes out to all the kind-hearted, innocent people of Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries who must withstand this awesome burden.