By Samuel Burke and Claire Calzonetti
After more than a year of unimaginable violence and a mounting death toll in Syria, the possibility seems lower than ever that real action will be taken to stop the slaughter.
The United Nations had been the only source of hope for a resolution, but back in May the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, caused a stir when he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that there was no “Plan B” in Syria.
But Monday, Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, gave a glimmer of hope by telling Amanpour that there is indeed a “Plan B” for Syria.
“We believe that we can solve it peacefully,” Al Thani said. He is in New York for the yearly United Nations General Assembly, and he says Arab countries are working on a plan of their own.
Qatar is a tiny country, with big money and big power. With its oil and gas riches, Qatar holds real clout in the Arab world.
“You need to make safe haven areas, first of all,” Al Thani says.
That would require a no-fly zone.
“If the Syrians want to break that, that's another subject. We need somebody to have the teeth to tell them don't do that, because that will not be allowed.”
While Al Thani wouldn’t offer up specifics about who will participate in this Plan B, he said the support might be wider than expected.
“I believe there are a lot of Arab countries who will participate. And there are also European countries who will participate.”
Nonetheless, he said the region needs the United States to step up.
“We are in an election period, so maybe this isn’t a diplomatic way to say it, but I hope that after the election the American government looks at this matter in different way.”
Al Thani maintains he isn’t looking for military intervention and says Qatar is not providing weapons to the Syrian uprisings, but said his country is providing logistic help – citing humanitarian aide and medicines.
Qatar played a key role in the liberation of Libya as the first Arab nation to recognize the rebels and to support NATO’s mission there.
In fact, Libyans were so thankful they hung the Qatari flag over a Gadhafi compound in Tripoli.
But Al Thani says that was possible through work via NATO and the help of the United States.
Now Qatar's sights are on Syria.
And Qatar certainly isn’t lacking the money to send weapons to help the rebels.
“Money is not everything.” Al Thani says. “Will is more important than the money. A lot of countries have the money. But they don't have the will.
President Assad was recently quoted in the Al Hayat newspaper criticizing the tiny, wealth nation, saying, "Qatar uses the power of money and revolves in the orbit of the West to repeat the Libyan scenario."
Al Thani responded: “Qatar and the others interfere in Syria, because of his failure.”