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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
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.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid