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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid