GCC urges end to Syrian ‘bloodshed,’ calls for reforms


The Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday 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 US-allied Gulf bloc has so far refrained from taking a firm position towards Syria as the regime of President Bashar Al Assad carried on with its attempts to crush months of anti-regime protests.

The statement comes a day after the US, French and German leaders pledged to consider new steps to punish Syria after security forces shot dead at least 22 people as tens of thousands staged anti-regime protests on Friday.

Around 1,650 civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces and thousands of dissenters have been arrested, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Group.

Scores of Kuwaitis on Friday staged two demonstrations in solidarity with Syria’s people, demanding the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador and the recall of Kuwait’s envoy from Damascus.

The UN Security Council Wednesday condemned Mr. Assad’s brutal repression of protesters and said those responsible should be held accountable, in its first pronouncement on Syria since the protests began.

Unable to agree on a formal resolution, the council settled on a non-binding statement condemning “the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.”

Western powers had hoped for stronger action but were rebuffed by veto-wielding members Russia and China, who feared doing so would pave the way for another military intervention like the one in Libya.