Last Updated: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:11 am (KSA) 07:11 am (GMT)

Saudi pulls envoy from Syria, denounces violence, urges end to bloodshed

King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. (File Photo)
King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. (File Photo)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz demanded an end to the bloodshed in Syria and recalled his country’s ambassador from Damascus, in a rare case of one of the Arab world’s most powerful leaders intervening against another.

In a surprise speech early Monday, the Saudi monarch said that Syria’s future lies in choosing between wisdom or chaos. It was the sharpest criticism the oil giant has directed against any Arab state since a wave of protests roiled the Middle East and toppled autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.

"The Kingdom today stands up to its historical responsibilities towards its brothers," King Abdullah said in a speech statement obtained by Al Arabiya TV.

“The repercussions of the events in Syria are not part of the religion, nor values, nor ethics,” King Abdullah added.

“The Syrian government knows Saudi Arabia’s past positions towards it,” the King added, calling upon the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad to implement immediate comprehensive reforms.

Jamal Khashoggi, prominent Saudi writer and journalist, said King Abdullah’s speech was likely prompted by his possible knowledge of planned tougher international measures against Syria and his “desire to intervene and save what could be saved before time completely runs out.”

“The Syrian regime is not capable of starting reforms; it is only capable of spreading horror.” Mr. Khashoggi said, adding that the regime in Syria still has the opportunity to cease atrocities and embark on genuine reforms but that it lacks the capacity and the will to do so.

The speech by Saudi King Abdullah came a day after the Gulf Cooperation Council urged an end to “bloodshed” in Syria and called for major reforms, as international pressure mounted on Damascus over its deadly crackdown on democracy protests.

In a statement, the Gulf monarchies appealed for an “immediate end to violence... and bloodshed.”

They urged a “resort to wisdom and introducing serious and necessary reforms that would protect the rights and dignity of the (Syrian) people, and meet their aspirations.”

The bloc –which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates –expressed concerns over the “mounting violence and the excessive use of force which resulted in killing and wounding large numbers”.

“As the council members express sorrow for the continuous bloodshed, they stress that they are keen on preserving the security, stability, and unity of Syria,” the statement said.

The Arab silence over the bloodshed in Syria was further broken on Sunday when Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby issued a statement expressing “growing concern and strong distress over the deteriorating security conditions in Syria due to escalating violence and military operations in Hama and Deir Al Zor and other areas of Syria.”

Mr. Elaraby, who took office in May, started his new job by visiting Syria but declined to give details of a meeting with President Assad.

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