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  He has not withdrawn all armed forces from populated areas.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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid