BEIRUT – Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday gave Syria three days to cease what one league official called its “bloody repression” against its people or face economic sanctions, the latest sign of President Bashar Assad’s growing isolation.
The move by ministers meeting in Rabat, Morocco, came as Syria’s humiliating suspension from the Arab League became effective. The 22-member organization on Saturday decided it would suspend Syria by Wednesday if it did not implement a league-brokered peace plan.
Arab states had “reached the end of the line” with the “bloody repression” by Assad’s government, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al Thani, the foreign minister of Qatar, told reporters in Rabat.
Syria, which has called the suspension illegal and a product of U.S. pressure, boycotted the Morocco meetings, its chair sitting empty. The country is a founding member of the Arab League and considers itself “the beating heart of Arab nationalism.”
The league’s decision to suspend Syria, an unusually robust action by an alliance often criticized as feckless and irrelevant, was a blow to national prestige and prompted mass demonstrations by pro-Assad loyalists.