Syria called for an emergency Arab League summit in a bid to rally regional support in the face of a unanimously adopted U.N. Security Council resolution demanding greater cooperation in the probe of the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.
But Arab diplomats, anticipating lack of broad support for a summit of all 22 members, suggested a smaller gathering of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt if others decline out of concern over harming ties with the resolution's prime sponsors — the United States, France and Britain.
To win unanimous approval, the three sponsors dropped a reference to sanctions should Syria not cooperate.
Speaking at Arab League headquarters in Cairo, the diplomats said Secretary-General Amr Moussa sent a special envoy to Persian Gulf countries informing them of the Syrian request.
Anti-Syrian Lebanese political leader Walid Jumblatt, meanwhile, warned Damascus could face chaos and instability like that roiling Iraq should President Bashar Assad fail to cooperate with the U.N. probe into the Feb. 14 bombing in Beirut that killed Rafik Hariri.
The Syrian leader appears to be in an increasingly isolated and weakened position since initial findings linked his security services and those in Lebanon, where Damascus held dominion until last April, to the Hariri murder. Critics of the drive to further isolate Assad warn Syria could fall into the hands of a radical Islamic regime or another type of leadership far more hostile to the West and Israel.
While Syria has rejected accusations of its involvement in Hariri's killing, it buckled under international pressure and withdrew its soldiers from Lebanon in April, ending a 29-year presence in its smaller neighbor. It also announced over the weekend that it had formed a commission to carry out its own investigation into the Hariri assassination, Fox News reports.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18