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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid