Gulf Arabs quit Syria monitoring mission

Gulf Arabs quit Syria monitoring mission

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf allies joined Riyadh on Tuesday in pulling out of an Arab League monitoring team to Syria, risking the collapse of a mission whose presence has not halted more than 10 months of violence.

Envoys to the Cairo-based League will meet later in the day to discuss whether to call off the whole mission, Sudan’s ambassador to the 22-member body said. “The meeting of representatives will discuss the fate of the monitoring mission, whether it continues or withdraws,” said envoy Kamal Hassan Ali.

Syria is becoming an Arab and international pariah for its harsh response to an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in which thousands of people have been killed.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said at the time his country was quitting the mission because Syria had not implemented any part of an Arab peace plan agreed in November. “The GCC states have decided to respond to the decision of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to withdraw its monitors from the Arab League delegation to Syria,” the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement.

It said the GCC was “certain the bloodshed and killing of innocents would continue, and that the Syrian regime would not abide by the Arab League’s resolutions.”

The Arab League’s demand for a change of government in Syria puts more pressure on the UN Security Council to overcome its divisions and take a stand on the bloodletting there. An official Syrian source said the Arab initiative was a “conspiracy against Syria” and “flagrant interference” in its affairs.

The Arab observers deployed late last month to assess Syria’s compliance with an earlier Arab League plan. “There has been some progress, but there has not been immediate or complete implementation as the Arab initiative requires,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said on Tuesday, adding he would name a special envoy to Syria this week.

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