News / Middle East

Clinton Says Syria’s Assad 'Not Indispensable'

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures while speaking at the State Department in Washington, Monday, July 11, 2011, during her meeting with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures while speaking at the State Department in Washington, Monday, July 11, 2011, during her meeting with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sharpened U.S. criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after pro-government mob attacks Monday on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.  Clinton said the Syrian leader has “lost legitimacy,” and should not see himself as indispensable to the country’s future.  

The comments by Clinton reflect the growing tensions in bilateral relations after the embassy incidents, in which pro-government Syrian protestors scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and ambassador’s residence, and caused damage at both.

There was a similar attack on the French embassy, turned back only after French guards fired warning shots.

The action is seen as Syrian retaliation for a visit last week by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and his French counterpart Eric Chevallier to the city of Hama, a flashpoint for democracy protests with a long history of resistance to Assad family rule.

At a press event with EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, Clinton toughened U.S. rhetoric toward the Syrian leader, saying among other things that he has lost legitimacy, accepted aid from Iran in repressing his own people, and should not count on being part of his country’s political future.

“If anyone, including President Assad, thinks that the United States is secretly hoping the regime will emerge from this turmoil to continue its brutality and repression, they are wrong," said Clinton. "President Assad is not indispensable, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.”

Clinton’s comments came after the Syrian charge d’affaires in Washington was called into the State Department to hear an official protest about the embassy incidents, which came despite a personal assurance by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallam to Ambassador Ford Sunday that security would be stepped up.

Syrian authorities were angered at the visits by Ford and his French colleague to Hama, with Syrian media accusing the U.S. diplomat of meeting with so-called “saboteurs” and instigating violence.

Clinton said the events are an effort by the Syrian leadership to divert attention away from its ongoing brutal response to anti-government protests, in which more than 1,000 civilians have been killed since March.

“The Assad regime will not succeed in deflecting the world’s attention from the real story unfolding in Syria," she said. "This is not about America or France or any other country. This is about the legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people for dignity, universal rights and the rule of law.”

The events since Ford’s Hama visit last Thursday have put new focus on the veteran U.S. envoy, whose posting to Damascus early this year - as the first American ambassador there in six years - came despite heavy bipartisan criticism from Congress.

Robin Wright, a longtime diplomatic reporter and a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says Ford has one of the most complex assignments of any U.S. ambassador, with the trip to Hama a prime example.

“The United States wants to push for change but is clearly not going to take action like it has in Libya," said Wright. "But Ambassador Ford has done two imaginative things.  He went to Hama, in effect signaling American support for the right to free speech and free assembly, and also posted a pretty serious message on a Facebook page - basically challenging the regime for its actions against the U.S. embassy, and actions against its own citizens in places like Hama.”

Wright said that while Syrian officials have cast the embassy incidents as spontaneous acts by Syrians, the official inspiration for the attacks is “totally transparent,” and that it is “stunning” that Syrian authorities cannot grasp how crude the tactics appear to the outside world.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid