GCC deplores comments by Russian envoy

Al-Zayani also accused Russia of preventing the UN Security Council in particular as well as the international community in general from taking decisive action over the deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests in Syria.
“Lavrov must look at the worsening security situation in Syria, which eventually led to the closure of the embassies of the six Gulf states,” said Al-Zayani in a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat, here Saturday.
The Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia took the step to close down their diplomatic missions, citing the Syrian regime’s routine of “massacring its people and rejecting all initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the crisis,” said the GCC chief, while expressing his grave concerns over the role of Russia and China.
Al-Zayani said the recent remarks made by Lavrov were “inconsiderate and contradicted spirit of a consensus that had been reached between Moscow and the Arab League during a recent ministerial meeting.” The GCC chief said that he could not understand what Lavrov meant when he said that he could not “figure out calculations behind closure of the GCC states’ embassies in Damascus.” Such senseless remarks were made despite the brutal crimes committed by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people, Al-Zayani added.
Asked about the efforts exerted by the GCC to ensure peace and stability in Syria following the success of the GCC-brokered deal for Yemen, GCC spokesman Ahmed Al-Kabi said that the Gulf bloc has thrown all weight behind Syrian peace envoy Kofi Annan, who arrived in Moscow yesterday. He said Annan will evaluate how far Russia was willing to push its Arab ally after joining a UN call on regime forces to pull back from protest cities.
Annan is scheduled to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov on Sunday and then hold talks starting Tuesday in China–the other Security Council member resisting efforts to condemn Syrian President Bashar Assad. The UN-Arab League envoy is carrying the embattled leader’s answer to a peace plan under which Syria could begin a “political transition” to a representative government, with no specifically defined role for Assad.
Moscow backed Wednesday’s non-binding UN Security Council statement in support of the initiative only after making sure it contained no implicit threat of further action should Assad fail to comply. However, a large number of countries including the Gulf states have left no stone unturned to try and stop the killings of innocent people in Syria. Several countries have either shut their embassies in Damascus, or suspended embassy operations in the Syrian capital citing security reasons, or protesting the Assad regime’s violent repression of the uprising that killed more than 10,000 people so far.
The countries that have closed their diplomatic missions include the GCC, the United States, France, Italy, Britain and Spain. “Also, the cause for concern is the massive Gulf investments in Syria,” said Al-Kabi, adding GCC investments in Syria are without a doubt in the worst possible state. This is compounded by a drop in the number of visitors, adversely affecting the viability of Syria’s vital tourism sector.
Against this backdrop, numerous GCC carriers led by Saudi Arabian Airlines opted to suspend flights to Syria. Both GCC chief Al-Zayani and Al-Kabi stressed that the Damascus regime must immediately end intensive usage of “the killing machine against its people” and cooperate for arranging peaceful transfer of power in that brotherly nation. Russia, a long-time ally of Damascus, since times of the defunct Soviet Union, has explicitly stood alongside the Assad regime.
Moscow has stood against draft resolutions at the UN calling for tough action against Al-Assad’s regime and has carried out military movements in the Syrian territorial waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, the Arab Summit scheduled to be held next week in Baghdad is of utmost importance for the six Gulf countries, first in terms of Iraq’s return to the Arab community, and second in terms of the impact of Iraq’s policy toward Syria on the way the international community addresses the issues of Syria and Iran.
Russia and China have taken qualitatively new stances toward the Syrian regime last week by approving a UN Security Council statement issued unanimously that holds Damascus responsible at security and military levels and supports the transition of power from single-party rule to a “democratic [and] plural” political system. The Baghdad Summit is the first Arab Summit to be held in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Moreover, GCC leaders flocking to the Baghdad Summit carry a heavy agenda focusing on regional uprisings.

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