Saudi prince sees Assad departure as “inevitable”

The departure of embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad appears "inevitable," Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said Tuesday.

But when asked at the National Press Club if he would urge the Syrian to resign, the visiting Saudi prince opted not to do so, one day after Jordan's King Abdullah II became the first Arab leader to publicly call for Assad to quit.

Citing ongoing bloodshed in Syria, lack of progress on popular unrest, as well as the Arab League suspension vote, the prince said: "I think it is inevitable that he will have to step down."

Syria's uprising has swept the country since mid-March and, according to UN estimates, killed more than 3,500 people.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon again Tuesday urged Assad to "stop killing his own people."

The Jordanian monarch's words also exacerbated Syria's growing isolation.

"I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down," the king said in a BBC interview on Monday.

Turki has no official position but is believed to often reflect high-level thinking in the Saudi government.

He is the brother of Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and analysts speculate he could become foreign minister when Saud retires.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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