Why are the countries of the Arab League who unanimously endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya showing little interest in denouncing the ugly human rights violations in Syria?
Answer: the vote on Libya had little to do with Arab leaders' concerns about human rights and everything to do with those leaders' detestation for Muammar Gadhafi. As I wrote in a column, the Libyan ruler had managed to anger just about every ruler in the region, insulting the king of Saudi Arabia, nearly provoking a war with Egypt, etc.
The Lebanese government even introduced, and heavily promoted, Security Council resolution 1973 that called for a no-fly zone over Libya. Why Lebanon? Because the powerful Lebanese Shiite political bloc, Hezbollah, hates Gadhafi, who is believed to have murdered the Iranian-born cleric, Musa Sadr. Sadr became the revered leader of Lebanon's downtrodden Shiites in the 1970's. Sadr disappeared while on a visit to Libya.
So it was payback time for Lebanon against Gadhafi. But when it comes to criticizing Syria's Bashar Al Assad, whose troops have been slaughtering unarmed demonstrators with live rounds, that's a different story. Hezbollah, after all, is closely allied with Syria (and with Iran).
So the Lebanese government instructed its ambassador to the United Nations to reject any statement condemning live fire on civilians, when the Security Council discusses the issue on Wednesday. Gulf Arab autocrats may also be far more reluctant to criticize Assad, as they reel from the many challenges in the region.
Will the Arab League turn its back on the Arab Spring, when it comes to Syria? We'll soon see.