In early October, a French-British-American Security Council resolution on Syria faced a rare double-veto by Russia and China. This almost never happens (the last time was 2008) and it was widely considered a response to what Russia and China perceived as NATO’s over-reach in Libya.
But my how things have changed in a weekend!
The Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria from its ranks is a potentially tectonic shift in the international response to the Syria crisis. A further decision by the Arab League to refer Syria to the Security Council would seriously back China and Russia into a corner. Though both countries are generally loathe to have the Security Council intervene in domestic conflicts, they also have an tendency to follow the lead of regional organizations. That was the case in Libya. Once the Arab League joined the call for a no-fly zone, the Russians and Chinese felt compelled to withhold their vetoes.
No one is seriously contemplating a military intervention in Syria a la Libya. But if the Arab League asks the Security Council to take up the Syria situation, that could very likely pave the way for the Security Council to impose sanctions on top regime officials and possibly refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
These days, that is how regimes fall. Just ask Mr. Gbagbo or Saif al Islam. The Arab League took a huge step in that direction of regime change in Syria.