Jordan's King Abdullah has now joined the list of world leaders calling on Syria's Bashar al Assad to relinquish power because of the violence his regime continues to unleash on Syrian civilians. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says that 3500 people have died since the Syrian regime started its campaign of violence against peaceful anti-government protestors last March.
In an interview with the BBC, King Abdullah said, "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."
King Abdullah made his comments shortly after the 22 member Arab League voted overwhelmingly to suspend Syria for its continued attacks on civilians. The League took that step after the Assad regime failed to live up to its agreement with the League earlier this month to release all political prisoners, withdraw armored vehicles from Syrian streets, and end its brutal crackdown against anti-government demonstrators. The Arab League also said it would consider economic and political sanctions against Syria and urged its members to recall their envoys from Damascus.
In a written statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Arab League for its "strong and historic stance aimed at stopping the violence in Syria and protecting Syrian civilians." She commended the League for its efforts to bring about a peaceful end to the crisis in Syria, and said that "the failure of the Assad regime once again to heed the call of regional states and the international community underscores the fact that it has lost all credibility."
In a separate statement President Barack Obama applauded the decisions taken by the Arab League, "including the suspension of Syria's membership, consideration of economic sanctions, and downgrading of diplomatic relations." He said the steps "expose the increasing diplomatic isolation of a regime that has systematically violated human rights and repressed peaceful protests.
"The United States," said President Obama, "joins with the Arab League in its support for the Syrian people, who continue to demand their universal rights in the face of the regime's callous violence. We will continue to work with our friends and allies to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people as they pursue the dignity and transition to democracy that they deserve."