“Any sane Arab, Muslim or anyone else knows that this has nothing to do with religion, or ethics or morals," Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said in a statement, calling for an end to the Assad regime's violence. "Spilling the blood of the innocent for any reasons or pretext leads to no path to ... hope.”
Saudi Arabia is largely aligned against Syria, which has close ties with Saudi rival Iran. But as one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East, the kingdom wields significant influence. Saudi Arabia's condemnation is also noteworthy because it has largely stayed quiet in the face of other uprisings, although it sent troops to help put down an uprising in neighboring Bahrain.
According to the BBC, "by Arab diplomatic standards, it was a highly dramatic intervention by the Saudi monarch. It is by far the clearest and toughest regional position Syria has met, and it comes from one of the most influential Arab powers."
The Syrian government has repeatedly blamed the unrest on terrorists and foreign saboteurs. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) carried a statement expressing "regret" at the Gulf Cooperation Council's criticism of the regime: