Saudi king breaks silence on Syria

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah recalls ambassador to Damascus; Arab League chief says no drastic measures to be taken to end Syrian violence.

Saudi King Abdullah 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi King Abdullah 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The regional response to Syria's state violence has so far been muted, but that could be about to change.

On Sunday Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah broke his silence, demanding an end to five months of bloodshed.

In a televised statement he said ''Today Saudi Arabia holds its firm historical position towards its brothers, asking them to stop the killing machine and the spilling of blood, and be wise before it's too late.''

The king recalled his ambassador to Damascus, urging President Bashar Assad to implement meaningful reforms, and fast.

This was welcomed by one Saudi journalist.

An unnamed Saudi journalist said, "We have reached a critical stage - the bloodbath in Syria does not allow anyone to remain silent, but despite of the silence among the Arab world, this great leader (Saudi King) came out to take a historic position that is considered a historic, landmark decision."

In contrast Arab League chief Nabil Al Araby emphasized a soflty-softly approach when he spoke to a news conference on Monday.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Araby said, "So, if you call for action from the Arab League, there is no action coming from the Arab League. If you call for further statements of trying to find a way for any problem - I'm not only speaking about Syria, I'm speaking about any problem, including Libya or any other country in the Arab world - do not expect drastic measures. Expect there will be step-by-step persuasion and trying to convince."

The pan-Arab body was quick to back NATO action against Gaddafi in Libya, but has so far been slow to condemn daily reports of civilian casualties in Syria.

On Monday Kuwait and Bahrain followed the Saudi example, both have now recalled their Syrian envoys.