Arab League arranges emergency meeting to discuss Assad's failure to stick to peace plan after death of 13 on Islamic holy day . . . At the weekend the Arab League's secretary general, Nabil al-Arabi, warned that failure to implement the Arab peace talks, which involved the return of troops to barracks and the freeing of political prisoners, would have "catastrophic consequences for the situation in Syria and the region".
It is unclear what action the Arab League might take. Its decision to turn against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya ultimately proved fatal to the regime, as it cleared the way for a UN resolution mandating Nato's military intervention. However, Russia is much closer to the Syrian regime and has complained that it was misled over the extent of Nato's intended role in Libya, so Moscow has so far resisted concerted international action against Damascus.
The French foreign minister, Alain Juppé, said the latest deaths had made it clear there was "nothing more to expect from this regime and that despite its occasional announcements it will not commit to a programme of reforms".
Juppé told Europe 1 radio: "Different initiatives have been taken to try to bring Bashar al-Assad to dialogue. You can see what happened to the last one: Bashar al-Assad accepts the Arab League peace plan and the next day he massacres dozens more people in the streets."
Juppé criticised the UN security council for its "failure" to act on Syria, after a draft resolution threatening to take punitive action against Damascus was vetoed by Russia and China last month. (Julian Borger, Syria crackdown continues prompting urgent Arab League talks, The Guardian, 6 Nov. 2011)
Greece is the cradle of democracy, but, as the world saw this past week, a financial crisis is no time to put important questions to the people. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s proposed referendum on the country’s loan deal with the European Union, called off quickly after intense international opposition, illustrated that perfectly. Plato and Aristotle would have approved of dropping the referendum. They didn’t like democracy of the direct kind. Neither trusted the people that much. . . .
The Greek financial crisis is a crisis of identity as much as anything else. Unless the people redefine themselves, this could become the perfect catastrophe: a country designed as a romantic theme park two centuries ago, propped up with loans ever since, and unable to adjust to the crude realities of 21st-century globalization. (From George Zakardakis, Opinion: Modern Greece’s real problem? Ancient Greece, The Washington Post, Nov. 4, 2011).