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Arab states step up pressure on Syria's Assad

Arab states step up pressure on Syria's Assad
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has so far showed no sign of calling an end to his six-month crackdown on anti-government protesters.

He has lifted a ban on opposition parties after decades of Baath Party rule, while still insisting that the protests are being conducted by armed gangs.

Footage broadcast on state television claims to show the weapons seized from protesters.

Assad has described them as terrorists, but pressure from Syria’s Arab neighbours could force him to soften his accusations.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait have all recalled their ambassadors, ending months of silence from Gulf states.

In recent days, Egypt and Jordan have also heavily criticised the Syrian regime.

In a statement released to the Al-Arabiya news channel, Saudia Arabia’s King Abdullah urged Assad to “stop the killing machine and the spilling of blood.”

The Arab League also wants an immediate end to the violence and the crackdown on civilians, but stopped short of proposing any concrete diplomatic solution to intervene in Syria.

“If you call for action from the Arab League, there is no action coming from the Arab League. If you call for further statements of trying to find a way for any problem…do not expect drastic measures. Expect there to be step-by-step persuasion and trying to convince,” said Nabil El-Araby, its secretary-general.

Middle East observers see the fall of Assad as inevitable as the president becomes more isolated on the global stage.

Despite what Syrian human rights activists say are more than 2000 deaths since the 15th of March, Syrian protesters remain determined to topple the regime.