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Arab League signals mounting frustration with Syria

The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting Saturday to decide whether to pull its monitors from Syria amid continued violence. If the Arab League recalls its monitors, international pressure on Syria would mount.

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Ms. Nuland says the US will await the Arab League’s decision on the future of the monitoring mission before deciding its next steps, but at the White House spokesman Jay Carney said it is “past time” for the UN Security Council to act on Syria.

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“We have made clear that if the Arab League initiative is not implemented, the international community will have to consider new measures to compel a halt to the regime’s violence against its own citizens,” Mr. Carney said.

France this week cast doubt on the effectiveness of the monitors – with opposition forces claiming that more than 150 Syrians have died since the mission arrived – and repeated demands that the Security Council take action.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that the “massacres” committed by the Assad regime were arousing “disgust and revolt” among Arabs and “everywhere in the world,” and he repeated the demand of world leaders including President Obama that Assad “must leave power.”

But at the UN in New York, this month’s president of the Security Council, South African Ambassador Baso Sagqu, told journalists Wednesday that his country’s emphasis has been on condemning “the violence on all sides in Syria” – an indication that council action against the Assad regime may not be on the fast track.

Ambassador Sagqu noted that beside next Tuesday’s consultations on Syria, the council still has “on the table” a Russian resolution dealing with the Syrian violence.

Russia’s resolution has gone nowhere, however. The French and others have criticized it for taking the Assad regime’s position that the opposition it faces is composed of armed criminals, and for failing to include any punitive measures against the regime for pursuing its repression.

As a standoff between Russia and China on one side and Western powers on the other has continued, the US has been encouraging the European Union and others among Syria’s trading partners to take their own action against the Assad regime.

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