News / Middle East

US Sharpens Criticism of Syria’s Assad

Protesters gather during a demonstration in the Syrian port city of Banias, as forces deployed around the small coastal city for a possible attack, a rights campaigner in contact with Banias said, April 26, 2011
Protesters gather during a demonstration in the Syrian port city of Banias, as forces deployed around the small coastal city for a possible attack, a rights campaigner in contact with Banias said, April 26, 2011

A senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s actions against protesters are "completely inconsistent with those of a responsible leader." U.S. diplomats are talking to European allies about new sanctions targeting the Syrian ruling circle.

Officials here stop short of saying that Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule. They are ratcheting up their criticism of the Syrian leader, however, amid reports that the death toll in 40 days of protests against the Damascus government may now exceed 400.

In a talk with reporters, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan called the Syrian government's crackdown "brutal and reprehensible" - and said it must respect and adhere to universal rights of freedom of speech and assembly.  

He said Assad, who the Obama administration originally hoped would be a dialogue partner on Middle East peacemaking, has clearly taken the wrong path in dealing with the country’s worst political crisis in decades.

"President Assad is on the wrong track and that he has to change course," said Sullivan. "We have also made the case that the actions he’s undertaking are not consistent with the actions of a responsible government. And we will continue to make that case publicly, and we will make it privately to the Syrians, as Assistant Secretary Feltman has done, as Ambassador Ford has done, and as we have done through statements going up to, and including, the President of the United States."

Former U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Ted Kattouf talks about the situation in Syria with Mohamed Elshinnawi:

The Obama administration battled heavy opposition in Congress to posting a full U.S. ambassador to Damascus and ended up sending envoy Robert Ford to Syria in a so-called recess appointment, circumventing Senate action, that expires at the end of the year.

Sullivan, a close advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stressed the continued utility of high-level dialogue with Syria, saying that Ford has directly registered U.S. concern about the crackdown this week with top Syrian officials.

He said Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman called in Syria’s envoy in Washington to the State Department Monday to lodge a similar complaint.

Sullivan said the Obama administration is consulting with key European allies about a joint imposition of new targeted sanctions on Syrian leaders aimed at prodding them to change course.

The United States already has various sanctions in place against Syria related to that country’s presence on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. But Sullivan said U.S. officials still believe that properly-focused sanctions can affect Syrian behavior.

"I would say the notion of targeted sanctions, aimed at those who are responsible for perpetrating this violence, can sharpen the choice for those people, and can sharpen the choice for the regime," said Sullivan. "And that is the theory behind exploring this potential alternative. And I stress that it is not something we have decided to do yet."

U.S. and European diplomats are reported to be circulating a draft U.N. Security Council statement condemning the Syrian violence and calling for an independent inquiry into the deaths of demonstrators, as a possible prelude to sanctions.

The United States ordered the departure late Monday of non-emergency embassy personnel and dependents from Damascus, while urging U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Syria, and advising Americans already there to leave while commercial transportation is still available.

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

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
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 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 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