Posted by Joshua on Thursday, May 19th, 2011
The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.
The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Daraa; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and will continue to be isolated abroad.
The foreign ministers on Monday will call for an immediate halt to violence against protesters in Syria and demand that Assad address the causes of the upheavals in the country.
Diplomats in Brussels said the 27 governments would call for a “national dialogue” in Syria, including a concrete timetable for political reform.
According to Politico.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk said “He should have been harder. He should have called on [Assad] to step down.”
Senator John McCain, said “I would have liked for him to say [Assad] should step down, but that was good.”
Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution last week with McCain and Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) urging Obama to expand sanctions against Assad and his top lieutenants.
“I think Assad needs to get out of the way, leave power, and I wish the president would have said that,” Rubio told POLITICO. “I have no hope that Assad is a reformer. He is a murderer like his father before him.”
The sanctions are a “start,” Rubio added, but “I don’t think the Syrian people are going to be happy until Assad is out of the way.”
Under Assad’s rule, the Syrian regime “has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens,” Obama said in his speech at the State Department. Hundreds of unarmed protesters have been killed in clashes with the Syrian military.
Ros-Lehtinen Statement on Obama Middle East and North Africa Speech
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on President Obama’s speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa: “I was pleased to hear the President express U.S. support for the advancement of democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. However, it is difficult to assess the President’s goals and objectives for the region when considering some of his most significant decisions since taking office, which have included pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians while at the same time reaching out to the Syrian and Iranian regimes.
“The President has now sanctioned Syria’s Assad for gross human rights violations against the Syrian people, yet he still envisions a role for Assad in Syria’s political future. And while the President rightfully drew parallels between Syria and Iran as partners in repression, no action has been taken to hold Ahmadinejad and Khamenei accountable for their brutality. We did not hear a plan to vigorously enforce all sanctions laws on the books to bring the greatest pressure possible on the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
“We did not hear a pledge from the President to cut off U.S. funding to a Palestinian Authority now aligned with Hamas, nor did we hear a pledge to veto the scheme to attain UN recognition of a Palestinian state without negotiating peace with Israel. I am also disappointed that the President failed to call on the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and instead imposed new pressure on Israel to make concessions on its borders.
“On Libya, after almost 60 days of U.S. involvement, we have no further clarity on our priorities, goals, and the anticipated extent of our commitment there. “I am deeply concerned that the President did not rule out providing aid to Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood is part of the government. The U.S. should only provide assistance to Egypt after we know that Egypt’s new government will not include the Muslim Brotherhood and will be democratic, pro-American, and committed to abiding by peace agreements with Israel. Further, considering our own national debt, we cannot afford to forgive up to $1 billion of Egypt’s debt. “On the President’s proposal for Enterprise Funds in Egypt and Tunisia, we must keep in mind that the performance of such funds in Eastern Europe and South Africa has been mixed.
If approved, I will seek to require a portion of the profits generated be returned to the U.S. Treasury. “Going forward, I hope that the President will work closely with Congress to advance a comprehensive and consistent regional policy focused on protecting and promoting U.S. security
“The US obviously did not want to topple Assad. They just wanted to exploit the situation to create cards to play against him in future negotiations. The US thinks now that Assad will be weaker and thus more willing to give concessions. Assad is stubborn and he is not going to accept that. He is going to restore the balance by escalating the regional situation against the US interests.”
“the sanctions will be seen as an escalation at a time when what is needed is dialogue. if that dialogue does not happen and the promised reform measures do not materialize, then we will all know that Bashar can not lead Syria since his legitimacy now is conditional upon enacting reform. Another problem with those symbolic sanctions is that they are not likely to change the regime’s behavior and can only serve to insult Bashar and make the regime less cooperative and more stubborn. Those sanctions make sense only if the US is actively working to remove the regime, so I am eager to see if that what is being cooked. The third problem with those sanctions is that they are very likely to complicate any future efforts to reduce tension and polarization in the region…”
“I never suggested the international community should not pressure the Assad regime to make serious changes, reform, and lead Syria in the direction of a free and democratic society. But in some cases, it may be unwise to oust an existing regime, thinking whatever comes in its stead must be better. Clinton referred to Assad not long ago as a “reformer”. She didn’t anticipate what would occur thereafter, but she probably didn’t throw out this term accidentally. The Obama Administration may still prefer a Syria under Assad than either civil war, or some other form of dictatorship.”
Obama clearly said “al-Assad can lead the transition.” The latter part of the same sentence is not important. The new US sanctions announced on the previous day was only symbolic and have no substance. So actually he endorsed al-Assad’s rule.
The call of general strike on last Wednesday ended in total failure, even miserable, and thus, exposed the UNPOPULARITY of anti-government movement inside Syria. It is time for protesters to go back home and to resume a normal life.