Arab leaders put aside the creed of Arab unity to speak out against Libya's Qaddafi. But they are far more wary of Syria, whose Assad regime is a much more influential player.
The Syrian regime's crackdown on the rebellious city of Hama has triggered an international outcry, with ambassadors recalled from Damascus and the United Nations Security Council convening to discuss the worsening violence.
But there has been little response from Arab states to the four-month crisis in Syria, which has left some 1,500 people dead and some 10,000 detained.
While Arab leaders put aside their adherence to the traditional creed of Arab unity and their distaste for public squabbles to support international action against Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya, they are far more wary of Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime sits in the heart of the Middle East and exerts influence – sometimes malign – over several neighboring countries.
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Since becoming president in 2000, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s relations with many of his fellow Arab leaders have been strained, mainly because of Damascus’s deepening relationship with Tehran over the past decade. Syria is a key member in an anti-Israel alliance spanning the Middle East, which is led by Iran and includes powerful groups such as Lebanon’s militant Shiite Hezbollah.