The Middle East Channel

Syria agrees to an Arab League peace plan set to be disclosed today

Syria agrees to an Arab League peace plan set to be disclosed today

Syria says it agrees to an Arab League peace plan set to be disclosed today

In reports released by Syrian state television, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has accepted a roadmap presented by the Arab League on Sunday to end violence. However, the Arab League has yet to receive an official response to the proposal, saying Syrian officials have claimed they are waiting for a document on the situation in Syria. The Arab League has a meeting scheduled for today, and expects to receive a reply from Syria, which it said it would announce at the headquarters in Cairo. A Lebanese official with ties to Assad’s regime said Syria presented its own proposal to the Arab League calling for “the opposition to drop weapons, the Arab states to end their funding for the weapons and the opposition, and an end to the media campaign against Syria.” Syrian opposition groups remain skeptical, however, insisting to see the agreement that they are concerned “helps the Syrian regime to remain in power while the demands of the people are clear in terms of toppling the regime.”

Headlines  

  • In retaliation to Palestinian efforts to gain recognition at UNESCO, Israel approved the construction of 2,000 more West Bank and East Jerusalem homes and temporarily halted tax transfers to the PA.
  • Qatar’s Emir announced that the country’s first legislative elections are to be held in 2013, saying that political reform is necessary to “build the modern state of Qatar.”
  • After a temporary calm, renewed violence has taken 12 lives in Yemen. Meanwhile, the EU envoy to Yemen claimed progress in the ongoing attempt at a transfer of power, saying “we are on the verge of reaching an agreement.”
  • Israel test-fired a ballistic missile today amid increasing speculation that officials are planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in the near future.
  • Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, has denied recent charges of corruption after Tunisian authorities issued an international arrest warrant.  

Daily Snapshot

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (L) is presented with a memento from head of Libya’s National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil in Cairo on November 1, 2011 (AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Egypt: the battle over hope and morale’ (Hoda Elsadda, Open Democracy)

Question: Despite the feelings of empowerment you described earlier, what do you see as the setbacks and causes for concern [for women in Egypt]?

Elsadda: First, women have been consistently marginalized. The Committee established in March 2011 to amend the Constitution did not include a single woman despite the fact that we have numerous female legal experts and professors of constitutional law. The Cabinet has only one woman member (from the old regime). Other appointments (at the level of governorates) reflect the same logic. Another worrying trend is that some government officials are coming forward with proposals to rescind items of legislation in the Personal Status Law that safeguard women’s rights in matters of divorce and guardianship of children. The idea is to take the Code back to its so called “Islamic form”, cleansing it from “first lady” distortions. These attacks on women’s rights are not only backed by conservative Islamist voices, but also by conservative voices within liberal parties, such as the Wafd, aiming to gain points on cultural authenticity. Basically an opening has been created for political actors to claw back on women’s rights for short term, opportunistic gains in total disregard of the public good. As I explained earlier, these actors can manipulate the public perception which associates women’s rights with corrupt regime politics backed with US funding.

‘What to expect from the new Saudi crown prince’ (Bruce Riedel, National Interest)

“The Kingdom faces unprecedented challenges in the tsunami of the Arab awakening. Old allies like Hosni Mubarak have been swept away; old adversaries like Muammar Qaddafi are also gone. There have been small but significant protests at home. In tiny neighboring Bahrain, the Saudi army has effectively occupied the country to prevent a Shia revolution. In the rest of the Gulf monarchies and in neighboring Jordan, the Saudis are urging a tough line against change. Yemen is the biggest problem in the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudis have never liked President Ali Abdallah Saleh. In the mid-1990s, Sultan engineered a civil war to try to oust him. When I visited him after the war to brief him on our intelligence estimate of how Saleh had successfully defeated the rebels and even captured expensive fighter jets Sultan had bought for them, he was good-natured but visibly angry at the Yemeni president. Now, despite the demands of the UN and the rest of the world, Saleh won’t go, and the country is descending into chaos. The unrest benefits al-Qaeda and threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia’s southwest.”

‘U.S. draws down in Iraq, and Baghdad takes the reins’ (Tony Karon, The National)

“US officials still hoped that the Iraqis could be pressed to accept a couple of US divisions staying behind, but the Iraqis declined. The US will certainly retain a substantial presence, with thousands of security contractors on the staff of its 17,000-person embassy in Baghdad and hundreds of soldiers in training capacities, to say nothing of covert operations. Many perils lie ahead. Some of the Shiite militias may escalate attacks on US troops to make it look as if their military efforts drove the Americans out. But Iraqis know it was their government — Iraqi public opinion, as expressed through the democratic process — that forced the Americans to accept their terms. And if the Iraqis could prevail over the world’s last superpower, they’re unlikely to become a cat’s paw for the lesser regional hegemon next door. American leaders like to tell their counterparts in newly democratic societies that the iron test of democracy is whether leaders accept defeat at the polls. That’s exactly what they’ve had to do in Iraq.”