GCC to pull Syria observers, urges world pressure
RIYADH - Agence France-Presse
A Syrian boy stands in front of a damaged armoured vehicle belonging to the Syrian army in a street in Homs January 23, 2012. REUTERS PhotoGulf Arab states will pull out their observers sent to Syria as part of an Arab League mission, they announced on Tuesday, urging UN Security Council members to press Damascus to implement the pan-Arab body's decisions.
"Gulf Cooperation Council states have decided to follow Saudi Arabia's decision to pull out its observers from the Arab League mission in Syria," the monarchies said in a joint statement.
The six GCC states said their decision came after "closely following developments in Syria and after they have confirmed that the bloodshed and killings there continue (and after) the Syrian regime did not comply with implementing the Arab League decisions." They also called on "members of the UN Security Council... to take all needed measures at the Security Council to press Syria to implement the Arab League decisions and the Arab initiative on Syria." GCC states are "committed to all Arab League decisions... despite the conviction of (GCC) states that the latest decision must be stronger and more pressure put on the Syrian regime to force it to stop killing the Syrian people," it said.
The statement was referring to a surprise Arab League initiative on Syria, taken Sunday, which called on the United Nations to support a new plan for ending the bloodshed in the unrest-swept nation.
The plan, which envisages President Bashar al-Assad transferring power to his deputy and the formation of a national unity government within two months, was swiftly rejected by Syria.
GCC states "urge their Arab brothers to commit seriously and truthfully to to implementing Arab League decisions to press Syria" to comply with the league's decisions. The Security Council has been blocked for months over Syria, with Russia and China maintaining that any moves in the UN body against Assad would be the first steps toward regime change by force, as in Libya last year.
Kuwait's Al-Qabas daily quoted diplomats on Tuesday saying GCC states would take part in a high-level Arab delegation that will visit Russia to press Moscow to end its support for Assad.
International pressure on the Syrian regime has been mounting, as more than 5,400 people have been killed since anti-government protests broke out last March, according to UN figures.
Saudi Arabia, the largest GCC member, decided on Sunday to pull its observers from the Arab League's widely criticised Syria mission. Other GCC members include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Riyadh "is withdrawing from the mission because the Syrian government has not respected any of the clauses" in the Arab plan aimed at ending the crisis.