In the off case that this weekend's Italian bailout rumor roundup does nothing to quell the ongoing European collapse, the status quo is already working in diversion Plan B. Enter the Arab Leage and the announcement that it has approved sanctions against Syria, including an asset freeze and an embargo on investments, effective immediately. And while the screenplay is for now a carbon copy replica of what happened in Libya, with the imposition of a "No Fly Zone" over Syria as reported previously as the most likely next step, what is unique is the response that will follow from not only Syria, but Iran (which followed in Russian footsteps and announced it would attack NATO member Turkey missiles if provoked) as well as Russia and China, all of which have made it clear that any unilateral, US/Europe-backed agression against Syria will not stand. BBC reports: "League foreign ministers adopted the unprecedented sanctions at a meeting in Cairo by a vote of 19 to three. The move came after Syria refused to allow 4,000 Arab League monitors into the country to assess the situation on the ground. Syria, one of the founder members of the Arab League, condemned the sanctions as a betrayal of Arab solidarity. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem accused the league of seeking to "internationalise" the conflict." We expect developments to move quickly at this point as the chaos in the developed world is hitting a fever pitch and the only logical outcome is some "localized" regional warfare here and there.
As for the blockade specifics, we turn again to the BBC:
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani gave details of the sanctions to a news conference in Cairo. They include:
- Cutting off transactions with the Syrian central bank
- Halting funding by Arab governments for projects in Syria
- A ban on senior Syrian officials travelling to other Arab countries
- A freeze on assets related to President Bashar al-Assad's government
The declaration also calls on Arab central banks to monitor transfers to Syria, with the exception of remittances from Syrians abroad.
Two of Syria's immediate neighbours, Iraq and Lebanon, abstained from the vote. Iraq suggested an economic blockade would not work in practice.
Naturally, every action has an equal and opposite reaction:
The Arab League move is being portrayed in Damascus as part of a Western-inspired conspiracy to undermine the country because of its traditional resistance to Israel, says the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon.
Syrian state television described the sanctions as "unprecedented measures aimed at the Syrian people".
The only question is whether the isolation that Syria is about to experience will be enough to prompt a government overthrow: that old "democratic" staple of enforced revolutions, which quite often work best when Made In Langley flip flops are already on the ground.
Damascus depends on its Arab neighbours for half of its exports and a quarter of its imports, so the sanctions - supplemented by Syria's northern neighbour Turkey - will step up the pressure and increase Syria's sense of isolation.
On Saturday, Mr Muallem hit out at the group after it asked the UN to contribute to the proposed observer mission, calling it an invitation "for foreign intervention instead of a call to avoid one".
Below is a breakdown of which import and export countries are set to lose the most from this isolation. Furthermore, if Iraq is indeed serious about abstaining from Arab League embargos, we would not be surprised to see the country tear off from the organization and proceed to unilaterally trade with Syria: a move that will set the reagion on edge even more.