News / Middle East

US: Action, Not Words Needed from Syria’s Assad

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks in Damascus in this still image taken from video, June 20, 2011
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks in Damascus in this still image taken from video, June 20, 2011

U.S. officials say the international community, and more importantly the Syrian people, are growing weary of the Syrian leader’s promises and that what is needed are reforms and an end to what was called here Mr. Assad's “repulsive” crackdown on dissent.

In his third address since Syrian pro-democracy protests began four months ago, President Assad said he would invite 100 leading Syrian personalities to discuss constitutional reforms, with a one-month target for recommendations.

The Obama administration has called on the Syrian leader to enact reforms or step aside.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said what is important now is “action, not words.”  She dismissed the Syrian leader’s suggestion that foreigners were largely behind the weeks of violence by security forces that has killed some 1,400 people.

“He spends a lot of time blaming foreign instigators, rather than appreciating that his own people are simply disgusted by a regime that supports itself through repression, corruption and fear," said Nuland. "We’d also note that the vast majority of those innocents killed in Syria were at the hands of security forces.”

Nuland said the interference the United States is concerned about in Syria is by Iran, and that the Assad government has “taken a page from the Iranian playbook” in crushing popular protests as Tehran did after disputed elections in 2009.

The European Union also expressed disappointment with Mr. Assad's speech and said it is preparing to expand its sanctions on Syria in response to the worsening violence.

The State Department's Victoria Nuland hinted of further U.S. sanctions, saying that Obama administration officials are working with U.S. allies on collecting data that might lead to war crimes prosecution of the Syrian leadership by the International Criminal Court, or ICC. She confirmed comments by unnamed U.S. officials last week that the United States is examining possible sanctions on Syria’s oil and gas industry.

Syrian oil production has declined in recent years, but its exports of nearly 400,000 barrels of oil per day are a major source of revenue for the government, especially with trade and tourism plunging because of the unrest.

Syria expert and journalist Andrew Tabler, a visiting scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says oil sanctions are more feasible than ICC action.

“They can lead an effort to target Syrian energy, which accounts for about a third of revenues for Syria. It accrues directly to the state. It wouldn’t hurt the Syrian people," said Tabler. "Pulling that off is hard without allies. But other allies in Europe and the Turks are on our side. The ICC indictment, because Syria is not a signatory, would require U.N. Security Council action."

Tabler added that "so far, the Russians and the Chinese have blocked Security Council operations. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future, though,” he said.

The State Department said U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford traveled to northern Syria on Monday to try to get a first hand look at conditions in the area, where action by security forces has displaced thousands of civilians, many of whom have fled into Turkey.

Officials here say the U.S. envoy lately has been denied high-level meetings with government officials in Damascus, but has opened dialogue with a wide range of Syrian opposition figures.

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

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs