News / Middle East

US Considers New Sanctions Amid 'Despicable' Syrian Crackdown

REUTERS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY CONTENT OF THE VIDEO FROM WHICH THIS STILL IMAGE WAS TAKEN. 
A man on a stretcher is carried to Al Badra Hospital in Hama in this still image taken from video July 31, 2011
REUTERS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY CONTENT OF THE VIDEO FROM WHICH THIS STILL IMAGE WAS TAKEN. A man on a stretcher is carried to Al Badra Hospital in Hama in this still image taken from video July 31, 2011

The State Department said Monday that the United States is considering new sanctions against Syria amid what it calls the Damascus government’s “despicable and abhorrent” crackdown on dissent in advance of the Ramadan holiday period.  The U.S. measures could target Syria’s vital energy sector.

The administration is ratcheting up its rhetoric on what President Barack Obama on Sunday called “horrifying” violence against Syrian protesters.  And officials here at the State Department say that might soon be accompanied by new sanctions.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said that additional U.S. steps might target Syria’s oil and gas industry, which is the government’s main source of revenue amid the virtual collapse of the rest of the country’s economy.

Toner condemned acts of official violence since Sunday against protesters in Hama, Dier ez-Zor, suburban Damascus and elsewhere as Syrians prepare to observe Ramadan.

“We find these violent attempts by the Syrian regime to target civilians on the eve of Ramadan to be despicable and abhorrent," said Toner. "We’ve seen this over the past few days where the Assad regime has increasingly used force against its own citizens - killing dozens, injuring thousands more.  And during this period, which should be a time of prayer and family gathering, we join the world in mourning the deaths of countless innocent Syrians, especially children.”

President Obama alluded to new sanctions in his written statement Sunday, saying that the United States will increase its pressure on Syria “in the days ahead,” and work with other states to isolate the government of Bashar al-Assad and stand with the Syrian people.

He said the Syrian leader has shown himself to be completely incapable and unwilling to respond to legitimate grievances, and that his brutal tactics put him “on the wrong side of history.”

Despite the criticism, the United States maintains full diplomatic relations with the Assad government.  The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, is in Washington for his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday and is expected to face questions about the utility of U.S.-Syria relations.

Syria expert David Schenker of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy says it might be time to consider breaking ties with the Damascus government, which he says that despite American outreach has worked “assiduously” to undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East.

“You can say that we will no longer recognize this government as the legitimate government of Syria," said Schenker. "You can say that we will deal with the opposition.  We will work with the opposition to create a better vision for the future of Syria.  This regime is not a regime with which we can do business, and I think that is certainly an option.”

Schenker says the Syrian leader is concerned that the Ramadan period, when the Muslim faithful crowd the country’s mosques, will be decisive to the survival of his government.

He says that if the United States sided unambiguously with the Syrian opposition, it could bring previously uncommitted Syrians into the streets and perhaps tip the balance against the current leadership.

Schenker said Syrians have shown “amazing courage” in the face of government violence, and have by all accounts have been “stunned” by the relative silence of the international community on the crackdown.

In a written statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.N. Security Council member countries that have thus far opposed action to “stop the killing” in Syria to reconsider.  She reiterated that President Assad has “lost his legitimacy” and said Syria “will be a better place” when a democratic transition goes forward.

Officials say Clinton will meet a delegation of Syrian-American leaders on Tuesday to hear their views on the situation.

 

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

You May Like

In US, Still No Decision in Racially-charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid