The Arab League said Saturday that Syria would not be allowed to attend its meetings until it complied with a plan to end the months-long violence in the country, dpa reported.
"In view of the Syrian government's failure to fully and immediately implement the Arab plan, we found ourselves forced to take this decision," Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim said in Cairo.
Bin Jassim, who is also Qatar's foreign minister, and al-Arabi were speaking following an emergency meeting of the Arab foreign ministers on Syria in Cairo.
"The League calls for the Arab countries to recall its ambassadors from Syria," the Qatari official said.
He threatened unspecified economic and political sanctions by the Arab countries against Syria.
Bin Jassim added that the suspension would take effect on Wednesday to allow Damascus time to comply with the deal announced on November 2.
"We were keen that most of the Arab states approve the decision, and there was almost a consensus on it," he added.
According to him, 18 Arab countries voted for the decision, while Lebanon and Yemen objected. Only Iraq abstained.
The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, said that the decision "is not interference in the country's internal affairs, no matter what the Syrian government said."
"The Arab League began contacting the government four months ago to end violence, and nothing has happened until now," al-Arabi added.
More than 3,500 people have been killed in Syria since the protests began in mid-March, according to the United Nations.
The Qatari official, whose country heads an Arab committee on Syria, said Syrian opposition groups would be invited for a meeting at the Arab League in the next three days.
"We are keen not to intenationalize the Syrian crisis. We want it be solved by the Arabs," he added.
As the Arab ministers were meeting, dozens of Syrian activists protested outside the organization's headquarters, chanting slogans against President Bashar al-Assad.
They shouted: "People want to overthrow al-Assad" and "It's your turn to go Bashar."