Saudi Arabia, a nation itself often criticized for human rights abuses, led the charge Monday in recalling envoys to Syria in response to that country’s bloody crackdown on protesters.
Activists estimate that some 300 people have died in Syria over the past week, the bloodiest in the five-month uprising.
Bahrain and Kuwait soon followed Saudi Arabia’s lead, calling their envoys home “for consultation,” Reuters reported.
Experts say Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has likely pulled its envoy to discourage protests in their own nation.
But King Abdullah’s statement on Al Arabiya television Monday was extraordinary all the same. The Saudi king called on Syria to “stop the killing machine” and said the violent repression by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had “nothing to do with religion, or values, or ethics.”
Assad has continued to brush off criticism and sanctions by other countries.
Abdullah also issued a warning to Syria to be more open to change and to “think wisely before it's too late and issue and enact reforms.”
“Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss,” he said.
Watch as Syrians celebrate after hearing King Abdullah’s speech: