Gulf states recalling ambassadors in Syria

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces that the GCC states have decided to withdraw all their ambassadors from Syria," the council says.

February 7, 2012 17:43
2 minute read.
Gulf Cooperation Council state leaders [file]

Gulf Cooperation Council state leaders in Saudi Arabia 311 R. (photo credit: Handout / Reuters)

DUBAI - Gulf Arab countries announced on Tuesday they were recalling their ambassadors from Damascus and expelling Syrian envoys in response to worsening violence in Syria.

Syria's rulers had rejected Arab attempts to "solve this crisis and prevent the bloodshed of the Syrian people," a statement from the Gulf Cooperation Council said.

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"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, current head of the council, announces that the GCC states have decided to withdraw all their ambassadors from Syria and also demand that all ambassadors of the Syrian regime in its lands leave immediately," said the six-member council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"The council considers that it is necessary for the Arab states... to take every decisive measure faced with this dangerous escalation against the Syrian people. Nearly a year into the crisis, there is no glint of hope in a solution."

The group's foreign ministers are meeting in Riyadh on Saturday to discuss the situation in Syria.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah called on the international community this week to take steps to "protect innocent lives and end the bloodshed" and warned that the violence threatened regional stability.

The world's top oil exporter, one of the leading Arab powers, has long viewed President Bashar Assad's government with distrust due to Assad's alliance with Saudi Arabia's regional arch-rival Iran.

Saudi Arabia was the first country to withdraw its monitors from an Arab League observer mission to the country last month, followed by the other GCC members.

France and Italy also withdrew their ambassadors to Syria for consultations on Tuesday.

"Faced with a worsening of the repression led by the Damascus regime against its own population, French authorities have decided to recall our ambassador in Syria for consultations," a French foreign ministry spokesman said.

France was in favor of a UN Security Council resolution which would have backed an Arab League plan for Assad to give up powers but was vetoed on Saturday by Russia and China.

Italy said its embassy would remain open to provide assistance to its citizens in the country.

On Monday Britain recalled its ambassador for consultations, and the US closed its embassy in Damascus.

Three days earlier Russia and China caused outrage by vetoing a UN resolution that backed an Arab League call for Assad to leave power. The United Nations says 5,000 people have been killed in Assad's military crackdown on protests.

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