Pretty tough to make war on the people who supply 10% of your grid power. How much harder if it was 50%.
Syria has faced a chorus of criticism over its eight-month crackdown on opposition protesters that has left, according to sources reporting to the U.N., at least 3,500 people dead. The regime is showing no indication it will soften its position, so will President Bashar al-Assad be open to any outside influence?
Who is criticizing Syria?
Many Western powers, notably the United States, Britain and France have condemned Syria’s brutal crackdown. The regime shrugged off that criticism, but in a surprise move, 18 of the Arab League’s 22 members voted on November 12 to suspend Damascus’ membership of the alliance.
On Monday Jordan’s King Abdullah said he would step down if he were al-Assad, a statement observers interpreted as a call for the Syrian president to do just that.
Turkey also added to the pressure Tuesday, threatening to cut off power supplies if Syria did not change course.
This criticism from regional neighbors previously considered allies is a stinging blow to al-Assad, according to Professor Fawaz Gerges, Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“Externally Syria is now more isolated than ever,” Gerges told CNN. “The noose is now tightening around the neck of the regime. The loss of Turkey is a huge blow: not only are the two countries important trading partners but al-Assad and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan used to be friends — they even took vacations together. This was not just a political relationship — it was one based on tremendous potential between the two countries.”
The Arab League’s move though was the biggest shock. Gerges said its decision to suspend Syria was a “game-changer,” as Syria portrays itself as the “beating heart of Arab nationalism.” Consequently “the Arab League’s decision resonates hugely among the Syrian people,” Gerges said.
Will Syria listen to any of this external criticism?