‘Dynamics’ in Syria can be changed if Arabs speak in one voice: Ambassador Rice

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, hailed the Arab League’s decision to pressure the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt violent crackdown against protesters. (Reuters)

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, hailed the Arab League’s decision of a three-day ultimatum to Syria to halt killing or face economic sanctions “as principled” and “important” on Thursday.

“United States, European countries and a number of other countries have already imposed very tough sanctions against the Assad regime, and I think it would be important if the Arab League chooses itself to levy sanctions, speaks with one voice and make a unified request to the Security Council to follow suit,” Rice told Al Arabiya.

“I think if that occurred it may indeed begin to change the dynamics,” she added.

Starting from Wednesday, the Arab League gave the Syrian regime three days to halt violence against its people and agree to a peaceful roadmap or face economic sanctions.

“It is time that they Syrian regime to understand that it is deplorable and horrible behavior against unarmed civilians is not going to be tolerated, not by its Arab neighbors and partners, not by the rest of the international community,” she said.

Further intensifying the international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end his repression of eight months of protests, France withdrew its ambassador from Syria and Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris was working with the Arab League on a draft U.N. resolution.

Western countries have tightened sanctions on Syria and on Monday Jordan’s King Abdullah became the first Arab head of state to urge Assad to quit.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s Islamic opposition has urged the government to recognize the broad-based Syrian National Council as the representative of the people.

The Front, Jordan's largest opposition group, said in a statement Wednesday that Jordan’s government should recognize the council as a “representative of the Syrian people.”

It also urged the government to recall its ambassador from Syria. Jordanian officials did not comment. The 230-member Syrian National Council was announced in September to forge a united front against Assad.

Syrian army defectors attacked an intelligence complex on the edge of Damascus in a high-profile assault early on Wednesday that showed how close the popular uprising against Assad’s rule now is to sliding into armed conflict.

Last month Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Damascus, but the Arab League’s decision last weekend to suspend Syria has given international moves new momentum.

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