U.S. shifts policy on Syria
While peaceful anti-government protests continue to be repressed by Syrian security forces, anti-American mobs wreaked havoc on the U.S. embassy in Damascus yesterday. Syria reportedly “refused” to protect the embassy from the attacks, which were encouraged by a pro-government television station. Now, the Obama administration is responding with its harshest rhetoric yet towards President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemned the attacks and said Assad has “lost legitimacy” in failing to fulfill his promises of democratic reform. Her comments reflect what has become a harsh U.S. assault on Assad, whose security forces have responded to the Arab Spring-inspired pro-democracy movement with an increasingly brutal crackdown.
“It’s clear based on the Secretary of State’s statements that American policy on Syria has evolved over the course of the last few months,” said Steven Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In March, the administration called Assad a reformer and obviously, as of yesterday, he’s no longer considered indispensable to Syria’s future. I think that’s overall a good thing that we’ve moved in that direction.”