Saudi Arabia on Monday urged the international community to take “critical measures to protect innocent lives” in Syria, warning of an impending “humanitarian disaster” after the U.N. Security Council failed to pass a resolution on the crisis there.
“The U.N. Security Council’s failure to pass a resolution in support of the Arab Initiative must not prevent the taking of critical measures to protect innocent lives and stop the bloodshed and all acts of violence that threaten serious consequences for the Syrian people and regional stability,” a cabinet statement said.
Riyadh “appeals to the international community not to stop exerting sincere efforts to find a solution to this crisis that has killed hundreds of Syrians and threatens to cause a humanitarian disaster if it continues,” said the statement carried by state news agency SPA.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will keep applying sanctions and put more pressure on Syria to try to usher in transitional government. He said it was important to try to resolve the Syrian crisis without outside military intervention.
The United States closed its embassy in Syria and has pulled out all remaining staff on Monday citing serious security concerns as protests swirled against President Assad’s regime.
“The United States has suspended operations of our embassy in Damascus as of February 6. Ambassador (Robert) Ford and all American personnel have now departed the country,” a State Department statement said.
“The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack,” it said, referring to attacks linked to al-Qaeda.
“We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian government but the regime failed to respond adequately.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he would call Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the international community’s response to the crisis.
Neither France nor Germany, he said, would accept the “blocking” of international action on Syria.
Britain recalled its ambassador to Syria for consultations in protest as the regime intensifies its violent crackdown against protesters, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
‘I have today recalled to London our ambassador in Damascus for consultations,’ Hague told lawmakers.
‘This is a doomed regime as well as a murdering regime. There is no way it can recover its credibility internationally or with its own people.’
Britain would now push for fresh European Union sanctions against Syria and to consider a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for steps to end the violence, Hague said.
Russia and China, both permanent members of the Security Council, on Saturday vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Syria for its deadly crackdown on protests, drawing condemnation from other global powers.
The Saudi government statement came as Oman’s foreign minister said foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet in Riyadh later this week to discuss developments in Syria.
The meeting, on the eve of an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday, is expected to focus on “the situation after the failure of the U.N.” to adopt the Security Council resolution supporting a League plan to end the crisis, Yussef bin Alawi told AFP.
The Arab League, which suspended an observer mission in Syria because of an upsurge in the violence there, is due to meet in the Egyptian capital on Sunday.
Thirteen countries voted on Saturday for the UN resolution to end the crackdown in Syria, where activists say at least 6,000 people have been killed since the protests against Assad’s regime erupted in mid-March last year.