Jordan wouldn't support sanctions against Damascus, the report added, because more than 60 percent of its imports from Europe arrive via Syria.
Another important neighbor, Lebanon, already is feeling tremors from the crisis, with a spate of deadly clashes between pro- and anti-Assad gunmen. The sectarian-tinged bloodshed in Syria only calls to mind Lebanon's own 15-year civil war. But as the home of the militant, Assad-allied Hezbollah organization, Lebanon "is never going to endorse action against Syria," Akl said.
Still, there are some formidable blocs in the camp calling more boldly for regime change and formal recognition of Syrian opposition leaders. Some even hint at a willingness to send arms to the Free Syrian Army, the shadowy rebel force made up mostly of defectors.
Leading the charge against Assad are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Sunni Muslim-ruled nations that see his close ties to Iran's Shiite Muslim theocracy as a barrier to their agenda of regional and sectarian supremacy. The irony in entrenched, oil-rich monarchs demanding reforms of a neighbor hasn't gone unnoted; Assad mocked them in a speech, saying they had "no history, no tradition" of democracy.
Gulf leaders watched nervously last weekend as two Iranian ships passed through the Suez Canal en route to a Syrian port in what was widely reported as a show of force by Tehran.
Meanwhile, transitional countries such as Egypt and Tunisia are pushing for tough dealings with Assad because they want to re-establish their legitimacy in the Arab world after forcing out their own autocratic leaders, Akl said. Libya, which is still reeling from last year's ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, was the first country in the world to recognize the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition, as Syria's legitimate authority.
Then there are countries, most notably Iraq, that appear unsure of how to respond to the mounting death toll across the border in a way that guards their own interests but doesn't isolate them from the international community.
The Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad fears that a war next door will disrupt its own efforts to tamp down the sectarian unrest that's been the country's primary source of violence since U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003.
Over the weekend, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said in an interview that Syria was still invited to an Arab summit in Baghdad if the Arab League's suspension of its activities didn't prevent it from attending, according to news reports.
Maliki was quoted as saying that Syria's presence at the summit would open "a page of dialogue away from interference and sectarian atmospheres . . . there is no benefit to anyone if the situation in Syria gets worse."
After its failed, now-defunct observer mission, the Arab League is keen to redeem itself in the role of chief interlocutor among parties involved in the crisis. Its hopes lie in a proposal whose boldest demand is a joint U.N.-Arab peacekeeping mission. Assad has rejected the idea, however, and even were he to accept it, there are few who think that Arab countries would participate.
Excluding the Syrian army, only four Arab militaries — Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco — have significant experience in international peacekeeping operations. The Egyptian army, however, is preoccupied with trying to govern Egypt's tumultuous post-Hosni Mubarak transition, while Jordan is thought to be reluctant to become involved for fear that its troops would find themselves battling al Qaida-affiliated extremists who could carry their fight into Jordan.