Jordan Steps Up Pressure on Syria

A Wall Street Journal Roundup

King Abdullah of Jordan became the first Arab leader to publicly suggest Syria‘s
President Bashar al-Assad should resign, adding to international pressure against
his government to end its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

“I believe if I were in his shoes, I would step down,” King Abdullah said in an
interview with the BBC on Monday. “Whenever you exert violence on your
own people it’s never going to end well.”

His remarks come amid a looming Arab League ultimatum on Syria to halt
the crackdown—which has left some 3,500 people dead, according to the
United Nations—or face sanctions and suspension from the 22-nation Arab
bloc starting Wednesday.

The European Union announced new measures against Syria on Monday, adding
18 people to its list of sanctions and suspending European Investment Bank
support for the country. The measures take effect Tuesday, when the names
of the 18 will be published, their assets frozen and they will be barred from
entering the EU.

China added to the pressure, calling on Syria to carry out the Arab League
proposals. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China supports the
bloc’s “efforts to end the crisis in Syria and has called on concerned parties
to implement the Arab League’s resolution at an early date and in a substantial
and appropriate way,”

The Arab League voted over the weekend to suspend Syria’s membership
and impose sanctions starting Wednesday until Mr. Assad’s regime complies
with a League-brokered agreement that calls on him to withdraw his soldiers
from major cities, release prisoners and allow international media to report
freely from the country.

Russia has blocked any U.N. Security Council action against Syria, and its
foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, Monday condemned Syria’s suspension
from the Arab League. But EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said
that after the Arab League’s weekend move, it may be time to try again.
Ms. Ashton is meeting Mr. Lavrov on Thursday.

The EU had already imposed sanctions on Mr. Assad and many members
of his family, government and the military, as well as an embargo on Syrian
crude-oil exports. The full ban on oil exports takes force Wednesday. The
EU and the U.S. also called on Mr. Assad to step down over the summer.

King Abdullah said in the interview, “If Bashar has the interest of his country,
he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and
start a new phase of Syrian political life.”

“I honestly do believe [Mr. Assad] has reform in his blood,” he said, but
“If he doesn’t accept the amendments, or expectations, of the Arab League
proposal by the 16th, in two days’ time, then definitely we have a major
problem with this leadership.

Syria’s foreign minister lashed out at Arab states on Monday, accusing
them of conspiring against Damascus with their vote to suspend Syria’s
membership in the League.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem called Saturday’s near-unanimous
vote at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo “shameful and malicious.”

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