The Obama administration has turned down a plea from Syria’s democratic opposition to step up diplomatic pressure on President Bashar Assad, who has violently repressed peaceful anti-government protests.
“The White House has to date rejected our requests for stronger action on Syria,” Ammar Abdulhamid, an unofficial spokesman in the West for the Syrian activists organizing the widespread demonstrations, told The Washington Times…
In the White House meetings, the opposition representatives have asked for President Obama personally to condemn the Assad regime on camera. They also called for the United States to impose sanctions on regime officials who ordered the military to fire on the crowds and for the United States to support a separate resolution against Syria at an April 27 session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“President Obama has not personally condemned the regime. The White House has not yet issued sanctions against officials who ordered soldiers to fire on peaceful demonstrators. The White House will not say whether they will pursue a Syria specific resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council,” Mr. Abdulhamid said…
Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies who attended both meetings with White House officials, told The Washington Times that the administration’s response for more pressure on the Assad regime has been “lukewarm.”
“They told us they do not have the same leverage with Syria that they do with Egypt,” he said. “We asked them to use stronger language on Syria. We want Obama to say something himself in his own words.”
Mr. Ziadeh added that the U.S. officials said they are working with the European Union to draft a resolution for the Human Rights Council special session. But the proposed resolution will address the crackdowns in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.
That the administration would take roughly the same approach toward Syria as it does toward Yemen and Bahrain is just stunning. Yemen and Bahrain are difficult cases where — because of counterterrorism considerations and Iranian designs, respectively — US values and US interests are genuinely in tension. Syria is comparatively easy: The Assad regime pursues an explicitly anti-American foreign policy as part of the Tehran-led ‘resistance bloc’ (and imprisons writers who criticize the alliance with the Islamic Republic). You would think that taking a tougher line against Assad’s crackdown on protestors would be a no-brainer. Why on Earth does the White House seem to be guided by the fantasy that Assad should be treated with kid-gloves?