The United States and its international allies are pushing for tough sanctions against Syria in an effort to get President Bashar al-Assad to step down peacefully.
The news, which is not new, comes on Saturday, following a 100-nation conference on Friday, and is mean to intensify pressure for al-Assad’s removal, reports The Huffington Post. Nations like the U.S. hope to intensify pressure against Assad, especially following the defection of Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a confidant of Assad, and also the son of a former defense minister, who helped put Assad into power.
Many nations hoped the defection of a top Syrian official would be a snowball effect on Assad’s regime, especially now that Syrians can count more than 14,000 dead since violence began 16 months ago. The Columbia Tribune reports that Hassem Hashimi, a member of Syria’s opposition National Council, stated that:
“The defection of Tlass will encourage a lot of similar people to defect as well.”
While several rounds of sanctions have done little to stop the Assad regime, the U.S. hopes that tougher sanctions from more countries will help. The Columbia Tribune notes that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the assembly of 100 countries, which did not include Russia or China, on Friday, saying:
“What can every nation and group represented here do? I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”
She went on to say of the two countries that seem to still support the Assad Regime that:
“I don’t think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all — nothing at all — for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price. Because they are holding up progress, blockading it. That is no longer tolerable.”
William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, agreed with Clinton, saying:
“We don’t rule out any option for the future because it is deteriorating. It is a very grave situation. It is a murdering regime, so we want to see a peaceful transition. But we are not ruling anything out.”
Along with the 100-country conference on Friday, the Arab League also announced on Friday that they have approved unprecedented sanctions against Syria.
What do you think it will take for President Bashar al-Assad to step down as Syria’s ruler peacefully?