US 'encouraged' by tougher Arab stand on Syria

The United States said Monday that it was "encouraged" and "heartened" by a tougher stand from Arab countries toward Syria's deadly crackdown pro-democracy protesters. "We are very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we've seen over the weekend by the Arab League as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. These are "further signs that the international community... is repulsed by the brutal actions of the Syrian government and is standing with the Syrian people," he added. Toner said the move was a sign that "Assad and his government are further isolating themselves from the international community through their actions." Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, recalled their envoys from Damascus earlier and denounced the violence, a day after the 22-member Arab League called for an end to the bloodshed. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the United States would urge the Arabs and others to do more to press Syria to stop its deadly crackdown. US officials say a lack of consensus has hampered international action in Syria, making it less robust than in Libya, where a NATO-led force has launched air strikes against Moamer Kadhafi's forces crushing the opposition. Unlike in Syria, Arab League members have supported and actively participated in the no-fly zone imposed over Libya. However, a State Department official was adamant that although the increased Arab cooperation increases pressure on Syria, the United States is not pursuing the same path there as in Libya. "It's just not the same situation," the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity. Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Damascus, has pointed out that the Syrian people do not seek international intervention, unlike the people in Libya. The official said the United States was looking to impose sanctions on top of the financial measures already placed on Assad and members of his regime. Washington will not follow the example of the Gulf states by withdrawing Ford from Damascus, officials said, adding that the envoy aims to "bear witness" to the violence there and deliver the US government's message directly to Assad's regime. (c) 2011 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Aug 8, 2011