Syria faces a test of goodwill with today’s deadline for accepting observers sent by the Arab League, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
Continuing the crackdown on protesters will leave Syria further isolated, and Turkey and the Arab League will not tolerate more bloodshed in Syria, Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul today.
The Arab League said that Syria will face sanctions including the freezing of government assets, an embargo on dealings with the Syrian Central Bank and a ban on flights to and from the country if it refuses by 1 p.m. today to sign an agreement to let observers in. “We call on the Syrian government to sign tomorrow,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi told reporters in Cairo yesterday.
The Arab initiative also calls on President Bashar Al-Assad’s government to end an eight-month crackdown that the United Nations estimates has killed at least 3,500 people. The league has rejected Syrian requests to negotiate the terms of the deal, which was agreed on Nov. 2. The original deadline was Nov. 19.
Last week, the league suspended Syria, a founding member, for its handling of the unrest. It was the boldest action by the organization since its condemnation of Muammar Qaddafi’s repression of protests paved the way for the United Nations resolution in March authorizing a North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign.
The UN has been paralyzed over Syria since Oct. 4, when Russia and China blocked a Security Council resolution calling on Assad to halt the crackdown. The U.S. and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on Syria targeting companies and senior officials.