Syria's Arab neighbours pile pressure on Assad regime

 
Anti-Assad protest in front of the Syrian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, 7 August Syrian sympathisers in Turkey have held rallies in support of the protesters

More Gulf Arab nations have withdrawn their ambassadors from Syria as the government's crackdown against protesters continues unabated.

Kuwait and Bahrain have now followed Saudi Arabia in recalling their ambassadors for consultations.

Nearly five months after Syrian opposition activists started out on their version of the Arab Spring - and with President Bashar al-Assad's regime intensifying its crackdown on the protesters all the while - there is now evidently increasing anxiety in the region about where these events are heading.

Some of the new diplomatic pressure is coming from countries that have faced criticism of their own human rights records.

The first to act was the Sunni Muslim regional heavyweight, Saudi Arabia.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia shakes hands with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus (July 2010) The Saudi king's public criticism of Bashar al-Assad is seen as highly significant

No less a figure than King Abdullah himself urged Damascus to "stop the killing machine and the bloodshed before it is too late".

Then Kuwait told Syria that "the military option must be halted".

And Bahrain called for "a resort to reason".

A senior UN official - the special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Christof Heyns - told the BBC he welcomed the new pressure.

"I do think," he said, "that it is encouraging to see that from the region in different forms - from the Arab League, from the Gulf states, and now from Saudi Arabia as well, and from other neighbours - there is peer pressure and that is really, I think, the most effective mechanism."

In another move today, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb - the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the leading authority in Sunni Islam - called for an end to what he called the "Arab and Islamic tragedy" in Syria.

It all appears to add up to more isolation for President Assad and the regime within the region, with the open criticism from Saudi Arabia on the personal authority of the king seen as the most significant.

Start Quote

We must not watch in silence while hundreds are killed and thousands more detained and tortured”

End Quote William Hague British foreign secretary

Riyadh certainly has an interest in seeking to weaken Syria's ties with Iran, but diplomats believe this is by no means its only calculation in making a move that contrasts with its usually more discreet regional diplomacy.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, said in a statement issued on Monday evening that he condemned the violence against Syrian citizens in Hama, Deir al-Zour and other cities "that shows no signs of ending".

He added: "We must not watch in silence while hundreds are killed and thousands more detained and tortured. I therefore welcome the strong condemnation by countries across the Arab world and Turkey of the regime's actions and am urgently working with partners on increasing the pressure further on President Assad and those around him."

Besides discussions about further sanctions, there are now signs that these new developments in the region - and the latest violence - could lead to a fresh attempt by Britain and other members of the Security Council to persuade the UN to take tougher action in response to the Syria crisis.

There will be a new focal point of the Syria diplomatic strategies on Tuesday when the former minister of another key regional player - Turkey - is expected in Damascus.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 24.

    So Sunni doesn't support Shia, well thats a surprise isn't it! We have the Sunni King of Saudi who has helped his Sunni friend in Bahrain to overpower Shiah protestors in his country screaming about Sunni protestors being slaughtered in Syria. Kuwait has Iraq with a shia majority next door. If it was blacks and whites this attitude would be called racism but is really religious intolerance.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 23.

    Any regime that orders its security forces to open fire on it's own people has lost it's legitimacy.
    The people want freedom and democracy, this means the end of the rule of Assad and his clique.
    As in the rest of the ME it unsettles the status quo. However a new stability based on government by popular consent is the way forward.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 22.

    With the reported comments from Turkey do others see the possibility of Turkey intervening with military force in Syria. After all Turkey ruled Syria for centuries and has large modern armed forces.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    Mr hypocrite aka King Abdullah (K.S.A) urged Damascus to stop the killing machine and the bloodshed, someone needs to remind him of the killing machines that hes sent to bahrain, whether its syria or bahrain ppl should get what they want!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    BaconandEgg2wice
    I agree. You would think we would be given the chance to comment on this major issue, particularly as the BBC is funded by us the tax payer.
    It would interesting to know who actually pulls the strings at the BBC

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    17.Aziz Merchant
    Democracy in the west works reasonably well, though recent events here suggest we do have problems.
    We do however have a good free life when compared to the poor people around the world who suffer under these aweful regimes. What's wrong with trying to bring a decent democratic life to them.
    Maybe we should just pull up the draw bridge and let them get on with it.


  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 18.

    13. Green Future ,12. Peter Nunn,3.Green Future
    Strange how there are no HYS topics on the riots in *this* country. The BBC at PC best.
    +
    Oh they did eventually open one, it recieved 1125 comments in about 3 hours before they closed it. This thread has so far got 8 comments in 6 hours, but is still open.
    +
    Ah, the BBC the voice of Political Correctness.
    +
    That's not PC, it's censorship.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 17.

    US with its sidekick Britain are trouble-makers the world over by kindling bushfire all in the name of democracy. It should be for the UN to take action against any defaulting nation but then UN is dominated by US that accounts for the former's lassitude It is time the West indulged in some serious introspection and set their own house in order. This is not to support al-Assad's wild overbearance

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    MR.TRUCULENT SAYS
    Syria will say the UK has the same problem. Who gains from increace in power costs. The government with its one of Tax on Power companies. Not the general public. The Power company Fat Cats have become Obese and cannot get out of their MD chairs. MT.TRUCULENT condems violence but it look likes half the rioters distract the police , the other half is Xmas shopping early for free.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    Who cares about Syria? Why isn't Cameron sending tanks in to London?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 14.


    TV in Syria will be showing live streaming of the riots in the UK. If I am correct I believe Assads wife to be of English Origin. Unless he has many wives. The UK riot problem must be addressed by nationalising power CO .People cannot afford an 18% increase in electricity,it has already turned to riots. NEXT step race riots. The Notting hill carnival has to be postponed or blood will flow.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 13.

    12. Peter Nunn

    3.Green Future
    7 Hours ago
    Strange how there are no HYS topics on the riots in *this* country. The BBC at PC best.

    ++++

    Oh they did eventually open one, it recieved 1125 comments in about 3 hours before they closed it. This thread has so far got 8 comments in 6 hours, but is still open.

    ========================

    Ah, the BBC the voice of Political Correctness.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 12.

    3.Green Future
    7 Hours ago
    Strange how there are no HYS topics on the riots in *this* country. The BBC at PC best.

    ++++

    Oh they did eventually open one, it recieved 1125 comments in about 3 hours before they closed it. This thread has so far got 8 comments in 6 hours, but is still open.



  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 11.

    Is this not Syria's business UK?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 10.

    the problem in Syria is that their patrons (aka Russia) does not want to loose a lucritive arms market as the US in some other Middle East countries does the same and we can write comments after comments it means nothing to these countries since their creed is above Human Rights or few thousands (exendaple assets) as those killed are called...the Big boys has to stop supporting these dictators

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    It would never happen here.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    @ 4.panchopablo

    We should wait 20 messages to talk about the situation in Jordan ?? lol

    Hey at least his true colours are now out for all and sundry in all their glory - now when the world continues their 'Israel needs to make concessions for peace' garbage they have a better idea of who they are demanding concessions for (not that that would disuade the BBC of course)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 7.

    Before troops were sent into Hama, the protestors actually "controlled" it. That doesn't sound like a protest to me, that sounds like an insurrection.

    Assad has offered multi-party politics and national dialogue to look at other changes. Until the protestors actually give him a chance to enact this, I have no sympathy for them and can only view Assad as being reasonable.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    To those asking for Assad to step down...

    Have you actually considered what will happen to the Allawite and Christian minorities should that happen?

    The fact that Assad is supported by both groups should give you hints at what they think will happen to them if the Sunni protestors get their way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Assad should recognize the need for political reform. If no, Abu Dhabi will retaliate with military force.

 

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