Syria has been the outlier in the Arab Spring, with President Bashar Assad holding on to power while other autocrats in the region have been ousted — or worse — one after another. But now that the reforms he promised have failed to materialize, Assad is losing the support of other Arab leaders. That development doesn't guarantee that he will step aside, but it makes it more likely. And it vindicates the case for Western sanctions.
Over the weekend, the Arab League suspended Syria's membership in the organization, two weeks after a delegation from the group reached an agreement with Assad. Under its terms, he was to withdraw armed forces from populated areas, release political prisoners, allow journalists and human rights groups into the country and begin a dialogue with opponents, among other steps. But instead, the bloodshed that has marked the 8-month-old uprising has continued, and the agreement has collapsed. More than 250 people have been killed since the agreement was announced Nov. 2.
On Monday, King Abdullah II of Jordan became the first of Syria's Arab neighbors to say that Assad should step down. "I believe if I were in his shoes, I would step down," the king told the BBC. "If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life."