Syria and Arab League Reach Deal, Fate of Christians Remains Uncertain

Syrian state media have reported that the Syrian government and the Arab League have reached a deal on a plan that aims to end the violence in Syria that has claimed more than 3,000 lives and caused an exodus of thousands of people, including many in the Christian community.

The decision to negotiate a peace settlement comes on the heels of the Arab League handing Syria a proposal on Sunday in Doha, Qatar that offered an in-depth plan to end violence in the country.

The Arab League proposal demanded that Syria take its tanks off the streets and begin negotiations with the opposition movement. It also included a time frame for compliance between the government and opposition members that would end the unrest in the country.

Arab League Chief Nabil Elarabi told AFP that the proposal was asking Syria to “withdrawal tanks and all military vehicles, to put an immediate end to violence, and reassure its people.”

Syria was supposed to decide on the proposal yesterday, however, the country wanted to make some revisions and today the Syrian state television agency SANA announced that, “Syria and the Arab League are in agreement over the final paper concerning the situation in Syria.”

The news agency also said official announcement of the deal would take place in Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday.

With the new deal concerns are rising that the Syrian government may perhaps be complying with the Arab League as a strategy to buy time.

One diplomat that attended the Arab League meeting on Sunday in Doha said, “Syria’s answer could be ‘yes, but,’ a maneuver to buy time.”

Furthermore it is uncertain how Christians in the country will fare with the new deal.

Last Thursday, members of the European Parliament expressed their concerns for the killing of peaceful protestors and direct targeting of Christians in both Syria and Egypt by passing a resolution that addressed concerns over government-backed violence.

The resolution pointed out that despite the influx of Iraqi Christians that escaped to Syria following the fall of Saddam Hussein, that Syria’s Christian population has actually declined since the protest movement, suggesting that a lack of protection for Christian communities has resulted in thousands fleeing the country to escape targeted persecution.

With violence targeted against Christian communities appearing to increase, the resolution called for the leadership of Syria and Egypt to insure the protection of Christian communities in their territories and condemned actions that are “inciting inter-confessional conflict.”

The European resolution also called for Assad to relinquish power due to the brutal force used by Syrian authorities against protesters, pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and medical personnel.

However, with a new deal stricken with the Arab League it appears as though Assad will stay in power for the time-being.

It remains to be seen if Assad is serious about peace or if Syria will pummel back into violence that will likely cause Christians in the country to face a similar fate to their religious brothers in Egypt that have seen increased persecution and uncertainty since the fall of the Mubarak regime.

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