Syria has finally signed a peace treaty that the global community is hoping will end the violence many believed could lead to a civil war.
On Monday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told the press: “They advised us to sign the protocol and we followed their advice.”
It is unclear whose advice Moallem is citing, with the United States, NATO allies, and most recently, Russia all urging the Syrian government to sign the proposal.
The Arab League issued sanctions against Syria and threatened harsh punishment unless the country signed its proposal, which called for government troops to be withdrawn, dialogue between opposing forces to begin, and Arab League monitors to be allowed inside to observe the cessation of violence.
Moallem also stated: “The signature of the protocol is the beginning of cooperation between us and the Arab League and we will welcome monitors from the Arab League.”
Protests began in March, and since then, over 5000 Syrians have been killed. President Bashar al-Assad has denied any government brutality, telling ABC’s Barbara Walters he feels no guilt about the deaths.
World leaders have called for Assad to step down and allow Syrians to move toward democracy. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch issued a report last week entitled “By All Means Necessary,” which detailed the accounts of military defectors who participated in the crackdown against protesters.
The report revealed orders issued to troops included “standing orders to stop the protests ‘by all means necessary.’” Defectors described acts of torture and murder against civilian protesters, many unarmed, and told of the severe punishment for those who refused to obey.
According to AP, U.S. State Department Official Frederic Hof told Congress last week, “Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of a dead man walking. I do not see this regime surviving.”
The United Nations met last month in a special session to address the unrest in Syria, which many feared would lead to civil war. For now it appears that the Syrian government is willing to cooperate, but it has gone back on its word before.
After initially announcing that Syria was to sign the League’s treaty, forces fired on a group of protesters after Friday’s evening prayers, killing six. There has been no word from the U.S. or Arab League on this latest development.