Jordan's king said today that Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down for the good of his country, the first Arab leader to publicly make such a call as Syria's neighbors close ranks against an increasingly isolated regime. "If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life," Jordan's King Abdullah II said.
Syria's crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising has brought international condemnation, but Damascus generally has been spared broad reproach in the Arab world. That changed Saturday, with a near-unanimous vote by the 22-member Arab League to suspend Syria. Abdullah's call for Assad to leave was the latest blow: "If it was me—I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we're seeing." (See the BBC interview here.)