US condemns Syria violence against protesters

White House says Syrian attacks on students "outrageous"; Iran blames "Americans, Zionists" for anti-gov't demonstrations in Syria.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST.COM STAFF
April 12, 2011 22:12
2 minute read.
Syrians demonstrate after Friday prayers, Latakia.

syrian protests_311 reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)

 
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WASHINGTON – The White House leveled some of its harshest criticism against Syria Tuesday, condemning the use of violence against protesters as “outrageous.”

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 protesters.”

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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.”

The 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 demand up.”

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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 recently.

“Despite some remaining ill-placed optimism that he will reform, it should by now be clear that the regime is irredeemable.”

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