Saudi Arabia is withdrawing its ambassador from Syria, says the BBC. From a statement by the Saudi King Abdullah on Monday:
What is happening in Syria is not acceptable for Saudi Arabia.
Syria should think wisely before it’s too late and issue and enact reforms that are not merely promises but actual reformsEither it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss.
The departure of the Saudi ambassador leaves Syrian president Bashar al-Assad even more isolated. Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, told Al Jazeera that it is a “watershed” moment:
Saudi Arabia has been supporting elements in the Syrian uprising since the beginning, but now this role has been made public, it was secret until recently, now the Saudis are basically increasing the heat on the Syrian regime and this will result in an increase in clashes and protests inside Syria.
The Syrian regime is really scared of losing Saudi Arabia as a friendly nation.
On Sunday, the 22-member Arab League had issued its first condemnation of the violent five-month crackdown, saying that it was “alarmed” at the ongoing brutalities. Al Jazeera reports that six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council also issued its first statement about the unrest on Sunday; it condemned the Syrian government’s “excessive use of force” and requested an “immediate end to the violence.”
On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will visit Damascus. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Davutoglu will deliver a “tough message,” though the BBC says that “one of Mr Assad’s top advisers said he would be given an even tougher message to take home.” But Turkey has said that it can no longer stand by and “be a bystander to violence.” Other Arab nations, including Egypt and Jordan, have issued statements calling for an end to violence against protesters and urged dialogue and reforms instead.
Over the weekend, the Syrian army fired on mourners at a funeral and raided Deir al-Zour, the largest city in eastern Syria; at least 50 were killed. Syrians also died in the central province of Homs and in Idlib in the north-west. Nonetheless, protests occurred throughout the country after sunset on Sunday in Damascus, Homs, Latakia and in the northern city of Aleppo.
The Guardian reports that conditions are quickly deteriorating for residents in Hama. The city of 800,000 has been under siege for nine days. The Local Co-ordination Committees, an activist group which documents and organizes protests in Syria, said that medicine, baby formula, food and gasoline are all in diminishing supplies. Many of those injured cannot be taken to hospitals and are being treated in people’s houses and in mosques.
Assad’s regime continues to say that “armed thugs” influenced by foreigners are responsible for the violence. Last week, Assad announced that opposition parties would be allowed in Syria; this reform, like all the reforms before it, was seen as much too late by protesters.
More than 500 people have died in the past week in Syria, making it the bloodiest month since the protests began on March 15. At least 1,700 have died; last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that at least 2,000 have died.
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UN Security Council Condemns Use of Force in Syria (VIDEO)
Map of Syria from Wikimedia Commons