After the largest and one of the most deadly Friday afternoon demonstrations against the Assad government, the death toll has reached 5,000. The Syrian opposition has increased its demand that the Arab League take action against Assad, including sanctions. The League announced it would meet Wednesday, call for Assad to stop violence and begin negotiations and push for him to allow League representatives into Syria to monitor the situation and ensure compliance.
In the meantime, Russia offered its own Security Council resolution calling for all parties to cease violence and begin negotiations. Neither asks for sanctions or foreign help. Russian and China vetoed anti-Assad resolutions proposed by the European Union in October.
Assad has simply blown off all attempts by the Arab League to stop the violent clashed, first agreeing to a cease-fire and then clamping down on demonstrators the next day. But the Syrian economy is hurting and Turkey, its neighbor and one-time ally, has even hinted about sending troops into Syria to prevent a wave of expected refugees entering Turkey as the situation worsens.
Members of the opposition and international communities are split on whether Russia’s proposal marks a real step on Russia’s part to rein in Assad or is window dressing. If Assad goes down, Russia will emerged substantially weakened in its influence across the region.