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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Calls for Assad Regime in Syria to Step Down

August 18, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. For months, the world has borne witness to the Asad regime’s contempt for its own people. In peaceful demonstrations across the nation, Syrians are demanding their universal human rights. The regime has answered their demands with empty promises and horrific violence, torturing opposition leaders, laying siege to cities, slaughtering thousands of unarmed civilians, including children.

The Asad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the world and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.

This morning, President Obama called on Asad to step aside and announced the strongest set of sanctions to date targeting the Syrian Government. These sanctions include the energy sector to increase pressure on the regime. The transition to democracy in Syria has begun, and it’s time for Asad to get out of the way.

As President Obama said this morning, no outside power can or should impose on this transition. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders in a democratic system based on the rule of law and dedicated to protecting the rights of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sect, or gender.

We understand the strong desire of the Syrian people that no foreign country should intervene in their struggle, and we respect their wishes. At the same time, we will do our part to support their aspirations for a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive. And we will stand up for their universal rights and dignity by pressuring the regime and Asad personally to get out of the way of this transition.

All along, as we have worked to expand the circle of global condemnation, we have backed up our words with actions. As I’ve repeatedly said, it does take both words and actions to produce results. Since the unrest began, we have imposed strong financial sanctions on Asad and dozens of his cronies. We have sanctioned the Commercial Bank of Syria for supporting the regime’s illicit nuclear proliferation activities. And we have led multilateral efforts to isolate the regime, from keeping them off the Human Rights Council, to achieving a strong presidential statement of condemnation at the UN Security Council.

The steps that President Obama announced this morning will further tighten the circle of isolation around the regime. His executive order immediately freezes all assets of the Government of Syria that are subject to American jurisdiction and prohibits American citizens from engaging in any transactions with the Government of Syria or investing in that country. These actions strike at the heart of the regime by banning American imports of Syrian petroleum and petroleum products and prohibiting Americans from dealing in these products.

And as we increase pressure on the Asad regime to disrupt its ability to finance its campaign of violence, we will take steps to mitigate any unintended effects of the sanctions on the Syrian people. We will also continue to work with the international community, because if the Syrian people are to achieve their goals, other nations will have to provide support and take actions as well.

In just the past two weeks, many of Syria’s own neighbors and partners in the region have joined the chorus of condemnation. We expect that they and other members of the international community will amplify the steps we are taking both through their words and their actions.

We are heartened that, later today, the UN Security Council will meet again to discuss this ongoing threat to international peace and stability. We are also working to schedule a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that will examine the regime’s widespread abuses. Earlier this week, I explained how the United States has been engaged in a relentless and systematic effort with the international community, pursuing a set of actions and statements that make crystal clear where we all stand, and generating broader and deeper pressure on the Asad regime.

The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity, protects their rights, and lives up to their aspirations. Asad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for him to step aside and leave this transition to the Syrians themselves, and that is what we will continue to work to achieve.

Thank you all very much.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Otto Goncalves permalink
    August 18, 2011 6:15 pm

    ; ) Hillary Clinton, I never thought I could say that; thank you! Thank you for offering that helping hand to those people in Syria. I loved what you just said to Assad… particularly the way you said that. Deep inside my heart, actually, till today I never thought I could tell you thank you for anything by the way the US see things around them. Well, it smells better now. You could surprise the US… Run for president. I’d like to see this whole world on women’s hands by now. Thank you! ; )

  2. elhrac permalink
    August 18, 2011 10:55 pm

    I wonder what took her so long.

    • August 19, 2011 10:26 am

      What took her so long? How about this- when you make a significant statement like calling on a foreign leader to step down and hand over sovereignty, you have to have the support of the actual leaders in the region so as to not be seen as trying to influence an outcome for our own personal benefit. When you make a statement like they made yesterday you have to make sure you have the carrots or sticks to back it up. You also want to make sure there is someone there to turn the country over to so there isn’t just a huge, empty, dangerous power vacuum that will cause more instability in the region.

      The State Dept. has been sending Amb. Ford to actually talk to the people in the streets in Syria to see what THEY want the US to do- I know, foreign concept, actually asking people what they want us to do rather than just imposing our will on them or just dropping bombs. We’ve been trying to get Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers to put the screws to Syria because they matter more to Syria than the US does. The fact is, the US doesn’t have much leverage in Syria because we have no diplomatic, economic relations with them (unlike Turkey). The State Dept. has also been working in the UN/Human Rights council to put pressure on Assad, something they have been reluctant to do in the past, but Clinton and Rice’s efforts have recently paid off.

      Do people even think about these things before they comment or do you/they live in a world where everything is just so easy and being morally indignant is a way of life? Actions have consequences, which clearly you haven’t thought through. Thank goodness you aren’t the Secretary of State or President or we’d be in real trouble. Tough talk without a follow up plan never saved or liberated anyone. There is more to this than just coming out and making a statement telling Assad to go.

      • Vcal permalink
        August 19, 2011 12:24 pm

        Stacy, you’re exactly right! Hillary 2012!

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        August 22, 2011 7:21 am

        I actually didn’t know much of what you’ve written here, stacy – thanks for providing the context, as always.

  3. Cassandra Sabel permalink
    August 20, 2011 10:53 pm

    Run for President Please!!!

  4. January 12, 2013 7:33 pm

    I agree with Cassandra. You would rock as a president.


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