In an unprecedented move against a fellow Arab nation, the Arab League approved economic sanctions on Syria to pressure Damascus to end its deadly suppression of an 8-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad. Turkey will follow the Arab League and announce its own sanctions tomorrow.
Even some leading opposition figures in Syria tend to underestimate the possible effects of the latest sanctions, calling them a "symbolic" step. I disagree with this conclusion. As Syrian economy is already struggling, if it would be further hit by similar steps from Turkey, I think that it would soon collapse (I'd even suggest the Arab League can even topple the Turkish government if it takes the same steps against Ankara today, considering the fact that the Turkish economy is at the mercy of the Gulf capital now).
The latest sanctions may mean that Assad's ouster can be realized without any military intervention by other states, which is good not only for the Syrian democrats, but the whole region, as well as Turkey. Although I despise the neo-interventionist tactics for regime change, I believe that the Arab League did the right thing at the right time.
So... if we're getting rid of a dictator like Assad, maybe it's time for the Arab League to move on even further:
Why don't we get rid of other oppressive, Middle-Ages-minded regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia?
Oh, of course, as the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has been propagating during recent days, the Saudi king and princes are "wise men", right? This should be why the United States opts for a quite diplomacy to drive the Saudi government towards the right way, while it is using a bit more "noisy" diplomacy for the Syrian government.
But what about when the Saudi royalty runs out of oil and money, key assets that Syria lacks, that make them shopaholics for American weapons?
Will King Abdullah be better off than Assad in the scales of history?
And will the writings of opinion leaders like Ignatius be erased from our memories then?
Will we also forget who were walking hand in hand just a short while ago?