In what has come as little surprise to followers of events in Syria, the nation faces potential expulsion from the League of Arab States, a group of Middle Eastern nations that Syria co-founded with five other countries in March 1945.
However, with the league expanding to 22 members and with six “observer” nations as provisional members, Syria may face being demotion to a lower league if it does not keep up with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Somalia when it comes to cracking down on its citizens.
Promotion and Relegation
In European soccer, teams at the bottom of the standings in their respective leagues face the prospect of “relegation”, or demotion to a lower league. Successful teams in lower leagues can earn “promotion” up to the higher level of competition.
The dilemma facing Syria and its leader, President Bashar al-Assad, is that it must continue in its deadly crackdowns on civilians to keep up its record in the Arab League, or face demotion to the “observer” status with nations such as Brazil, Chad and India.
Assad: “We Must Step Up Our Game”
At his presidential palace in Damascus, President Assad expressed his disappointment at his country’s lack of effort on enforcing his hereditary totalitarian rule.
“We can’t be relegated from the Arab League,” he said, “we just can’t! We must step up our game and crack some more protestor skulls! How can we be relegated when countries like Comoros and Djibouti get to stay? Comoros and Djibouti? I can’t even find them on a map!”
“Arab Spring” Changes the Rules
In recent months, Syria has felt the effects of the “Arab Spring” that began in early 2011 in other Arab League states such as Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The tumultuous protests in these nations have changed the rules of the game when it comes to dealing with protestors of dictatorial regimes in the regions.
“It’s not fair!” cried Assad. “Why did they have to change the rules? I was just getting as good as my father at jailing and murdering innocent civilians!”
One of the factors that may enter into the Arab League’s decision on Syria’s status at the end of the season may be how a revised league schedule should look. Syria already has home-and-home matchups scheduled against neighbors Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, with a major test match against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and a much-anticipated contest against rival Egypt in Damascus.
Iran “Ready to Step In”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, informed the league of his proposal to step into the gap if Syria is drummed out of the League.
“We are ready to step in,” said Ahmadinejad. “We have built a strong record, both against long-time rival and League member Iraq, and against our own people. We’re even bluffing the Great Satan (the Iranian nickname for the US) with possible nuclear missiles! We would be a great addition to the tradition of violence and bloodshed found in the Arab League!”
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby could not be reached for comment, as he was on his way to Abu Dhabi for the match between bitter rivals Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.