syrian protests_311 reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
WASHINGTON – The White House leveled some of its harshest criticism against
Syria Tuesday, condemning the use of violence against protesters as
Following reports that the Syrian government had attacked
university students – and allegations it was denying medical care to protesters
– White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released a statement saying that, “The
escalating repression by the Syrian government is outrageous, and the United
States strongly condemns the continued efforts to suppress peaceful
Defiant Assad blames country’s turmoil on ‘Israeli plot’
Pointing to “deep concern” at wounded demonstrators being
denied medical care, Carney declared that “President [Bashar] Assad and the
Syrian government must respect the universal rights of the Syrian people, who
are rightly demanding the basic freedoms that they have been denied.”
uptick in criticism against Syria comes as critics of the Obama administration
are urging more to be done to encourage the protests against the Assad regime.
It also comes amidst reports that advisers in the White House are divided
between whether to seek more open efforts at challenging Assad, or to continue
to see Assad as an agent for stability most capable of making peace with Israel,
and keeping domestic Islamist forces at bay.
To many who think America’s
strategy of engagement with Syria has failed to produce results and should be
abandoned, the tough rhetoric is insufficient given the threat posed by Syria,
and the benefit of being rid of Assad.
“Aside from deploring Assad’s use
of deadly violence against his own people, President Obama needs to ratchet up
the rhetoric against Assad and his regime to provide far more moral support to
the protestors,” Marc Ginsberg, the former American ambassador to Morocco, wrote
on the Huffington Post website. “If Obama could declare it was time for Gaddafi
and Mubarak to go, this weekend’s violence throughout Syria compels the White
House to issue the same demand on Assad, with policy prescriptions to back that
Ginsberg suggested additional sanctions against the Syrian
regime, social networking support for protesters and seizing assets of the
ruling class, among other measures.
“Given the pernicious effect of
Assad’s policies on US interests and the region, it’s difficult to imagine that
a successor or replacement regime could be worse,” Washington Institute for Near
East Policy expert David Schenker wrote in The New Republic
“Despite some remaining ill-placed optimism that he will reform,
it should by now be clear that the regime is irredeemable.”