News / Middle East

Months of Unrest Led to US Call for Assad to Resign

An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Syrian anti-government demonstrators marching in the coastal city of Latakia on August 12, 2011 (AFP cannot independently verify the content of this video.)
An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Syrian anti-government demonstrators marching in the coastal city of Latakia on August 12, 2011 (AFP cannot independently verify the content of this video.)

Tensions in Syria began to build early in the year with the rise of the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and other north African and Middle Eastern countries. Syrian government forces have tried to quell the protests in the country with deadly force. Rights groups and activists say at least 1,800 civilians have been killed since the start of the government's crackdown in March. It is hard to verify the accounts of the violence because the government has barred most foreign media from reporting and traveling freely in the country. The Obama administration on Thursday called on the Syrian president to step down.  

Timeline of major developments

March 16: Syrian security forces in Damascus break up an opposition protest calling for the release of political prisoners. Some demonstrators are detained.

March 24: The Syrian government announces a series of reforms, including the first suggestion that emergency laws, in place since 1963, might be lifted. Proposed reforms include measures to raise salaries for public employees and fight unemployment.

March 29: The Syrian government resigns, but President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. Rallies in support of the president take place in several cities, including the capital, Damascus.

April 14: President Assad announces a new 31-member government. He orders the release of detainees arrested in the wave of protests, except those convicted of "criminal acts."

April 19: The Syrian government approves an end to emergency laws that ban public demonstrations and restrict the media. President Assad ratifies the decision two days later. But the government threatens harsh reprisals if unrest continues.

April 29: The U.S. imposes new sanctions on Syria, targeting its intelligence agency and two relatives of the president. U.S. officials warn the penalties could be expanded to include President Assad.

May 23: European foreign ministers announce sanctions against President Assad and nine members of his government.

June 20: President Assad blames the uprising on "saboteurs" outside the country. He pledges to hold parliamentary elections, work to create new political parties, and amend the constitution. But he says he will not implement change amid chaos.

June 29: The U.S. Treasury Department imposes sanctions on Syrian security forces in connection with the lethal crackdown on protesters. It accuses agents of Syria's political security unit of opening fire and killing demonstrators in  incidents in March and April.

July 7-8: U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier visit the city of Hama to show support for thousands of protesters there.

July 10: Syrian opposition members boycott talks with the government to protest the crackdown on demonstrators.

July 15: A Human Rights Watch official says that some 17,000 people have been detained since March and detention centers are extremely overcrowded. He says his group has documented torture and brutal beatings.

August 7-9: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain withdraw their ambassadors from Syria. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al Arabi urges Syria to "stop all acts of violence." Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meets with President Assad in Syria to call for an end to the violence.

August 17: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks by telephone with President Assad, saying he is alarmed at reports of excessive use of force by the government and widespread human rights violations. Ban also calls for an independent investigation of the violence.

August 18: The United States calls for Assad's resignation. U.S. President Barack Obama calls for the Syrian president to step aside and announces new sanctions on Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the transition to democracy in Syria has begun and calls on Assad to "get out of the way."

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid