News / Middle East

Clinton Criticizes Syria’s Assad in Mideast Democracy Speech

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the National Democratic Institute's 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner in Washington, November 7, 2011.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the National Democratic Institute's 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner in Washington, November 7, 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said late Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “systematically” violated all terms of the Arab League-mediated peace plan for his country.  In a policy speech, Clinton said the United States supports democratic reform in the Middle East without reservation.

Aides say Clinton made the speech to clearly affirm that although the United States had close ties to ousted or endangered Middle East strongmen in the past, it now stands in solidarity with all of those in the region who seek inclusive democracies.

Addressing the National Democratic Institute in Washington, Clinton conceded that the United States has not always pushed reform hard enough, and too often has accepted the notion advanced by Middle East autocrats that supporting them was the only way to fend off extremism.

 

Clinton, speaking to an audience that included reform activists from across the region, said the United States now recognizes that “the real choice is between reform and unrest.”

“The truth is that the greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change; it is the refusal to change," she said. "That is certainly true in Syria, where a crackdown on small, peaceful protests drove thousands into the streets and thousands more over the borders.  It is true in Yemen, where President [Ali Abdullah] Saleh has reneged repeatedly on his promises to transition to democracy and suppressed his people’s rights and freedoms.  And it is true in Egypt.”

Clinton said that if power in Egypt remains in the hands of a few unelected officials, the country will have missed a historic opportunity and planted the seeds for future unrest.

But she reserved her sharpest criticism for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who she said has spurned every provision of the Arab League peace plan he accepted last week to protect Syrian civilians.

“He has systematically violated each of its basic requirements," said Clinton. "He has not released all detainees.  He has not allowed free and unfettered access to journalists or Arab League monitors.  He has not withdrawn all armed forces from populated areas.  And he has certainly has not stopped all acts of violence.  In fact, the regime has increased violence against civilians in places like the city of Homs.  Now, Assad may be able to delay change.  But he cannot deny his people’s legitimate demands indefinitely.”

Clinton reiterated Washington's call for the Syrian leader to step down and said that until he does, the United States and world community will continue to increase pressure on him and what she termed “his brutal regime.”

The secretary of state also castigated Syria’s main diplomatic ally, Iran, accusing the government there  of “breathtaking” hypocrisy by claiming to support democracy abroad, while killing peaceful protestors on the streets of Tehran.

Clinton said the United States is prepared to work with elected Islamist parties provided, among other things, they abide by the rule of law, respect the rights of women and minorities, and let go of power if defeated at the polls.

Clinton also expressed impatience with the stalled effort to revive peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.  She said it would be shortsighted to think that either side can simply put peacemaking on hold until the current upheaval is over.  She said the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli conflict “is one more status quo in the Middle East that cannot be sustained.”

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid