By Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Council says Arab League peace plan hampered by the regime in Damascus
The decision follows the announcement made by Saudi Arabia about its plan for withdrawal, and a call made by the Arab League to Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down over his bloody crackdown on a 10-month-old revolt in which thousands of Syrians have been killed and hundreds of thousands injured so far.
“After hectic consultations among the member states, the GCC took the decision to pull out their observers and urged the UN Security Council to exert pressure on Damascus to implement the plan of the Arab League for lasting peace and security in the country,” said GCC spokesman Ahmed Al-Kabi in Riyadh on Tuesday. Al-Kabi said member states were discussing future courses of action after the Syrian regime did not respond to efforts to promote a peaceful solution to the unrest.
“The GCC as a bloc is losing confidence in the possibility of a negotiated solution in Syria,” said the spokesman, adding that the poor response from the Syrian government to the Arab League peace plan led to the collapse of the monitoring mission.
Meanwhile, envoys to the Cairo-based league met later on Tuesday and decided to continue its mission in Syria.
Referring to the decision made by the GCC to pull out monitors, a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat said: “The decision was made after close and careful monitoring of the events in Syria, where killings of innocent people are continuing…and non-commitment of the Syrian regime to the implementation of the resolutions of Arab League is creating problem after problem.” A total of 55 observers were sent by the GCC early this month to join the Arab League mission and to monitor the situation in Syria.
The GCC observers together with some observers from Iraq joined the Arab League delegation within the framework of the Arab League Peace Plan, which seeks to restore peace and security in the country. The observers were well equipped to carry out their mission with firm determination and trust at a critical time. However, the GCC on Tuesday decided to wrap up its mission after it became evident the Syrian regime was not at all implementing the Arab League decisions. The GCC also called on members of the UN Security Council to press Syria to implement the Arab League decisions and the Arab initiative on Syria. The Arab League, on its part, said it has requested a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon so it could present its proposals on resolving the Syria crisis and demand support from the UN Security Council. The GCC statement called on stakeholders to ensure implementation of the resolutions of the Arab League with seriousness and credibility.
It also called on the international community “to shoulder its responsibilities, including brothers in Islamic countries and friends in Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and other member states of UN Security Council and take all necessary measures to pressure Syria to implement the resolutions of Arab League.” A Reuters report said Tuesday the Arab League has begun to withdraw 55 Gulf monitors from Syria after their governments decided to quit the peace mission.
“The Arab League has begun measures to withdraw 55 Gulf monitors,” said Adnan Al-Khodeir, head of the monitoring operations room at the League’s Cairo headquarters, as quoted by Reuters. He said their home countries ordered the withdrawal and any moves to bring home more monitors would require decisions by national governments. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed since March last year when the Syrian regime launched a crackdown on protesters calling for democratic reforms.