As Western powers intensify their rhetoric against the Syrian regime for its five-month-old crackdown on protesters through Security Council statements and economic sanctions, Arab leaders have largely refrained from criticizing the government. But with brutal military assaults underway in Deir al-Zor and Hama this week, Syria's neighbors are breaking their silence. On Monday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (above, on left) recalled his country's ambassador from Damascus and deemed the developments in Syria "not acceptable for Saudi Arabia" in a written statement read out on al-Arabiya television. He called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop "the killing machine and end the bloodshed," adding that "Syria should think wisely before it's too late and issue and enact reforms that are not merely promises but actual reforms." Later on Monday, Kuwait declared that it would also be recalling its ambassador to Syria.
The announcements come a day after the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, urged an immediate end to "bloodshed" and "excessive use of force" in Syria, and called for significant reforms. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby also expressed "growing concern" over the "escalating violence" in the country but added that the Arab League would use "persuasion" rather than "drastic measures" to end the violence. Turkey, meanwhile, is threatening to join international actions against the Syrian regime if it fails to renounce violence and introduce meaningful reforms, according to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News. Jordan's response has been more muted, with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh describing Syria's use of force as "disturbing" but stressing that his country didn't want to meddle in the country's internal affairs.