Gulf Cooperation Council pulls members out of Arab League Syria mission


Gulf states have pulled out of the Arab League's observer mission in Syria, accusing Damascus of failing to cooperate with efforts to end violence against civilians.

The Arab League now plans to seek the help of the United Nations Security Council to resolve the crisis, Reuters reported.

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The Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, announced its withdrawal this morning. It followed Saudi Arabia's decision to quit the mission on Sunday, when Riyadh said that Damascus had failed to implement any part of the Arab League peace plan agreed in November.

According to Reuters' translation, the Council's statement said it was "certain the bloodshed and killing of innocents would continue, and that the Syrian regime would not abide by the Arab League's resolutions."

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In a sign that the Arab League is changing tactic, it said today that its director, Nabil Al Arabi, had requested a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to seek its support for a new peace plan. The aim is to "inform the Security Council about developments and obtain the support of the Council for this plan," a statement said.

UN ambassadors from Germany, Britain and France met representatives from Arab League countries last night, and are pushing for Arabi to brief the Security Council "as soon as possible," according to Agence France Presse.

The Syrian government responded by accusing the Arab League of participating in a foreign "plot" against it. According to state-run news agency SANA, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said:

"They have tried to draw a future for Syria that is very far from the will of the Syrians as if we are a country whose will is usurped, while throughout history, we have been a torch teaching them Arabism and Islam, and we will teach them democracy and pluralism."

Moallem also warned that Russia would not tolerate "foreign interference in Syria's affairs." Russia and China have already vetoed one proposed resolution, saying it was a step toward enforced regime change.

Russia is losing hope of negotiating a political solution to the crisis, however, "because we don't see any willingness, either from the authorities of the protesters to reach an agreement," Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov told Bloomberg.

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