Political Buzz August 18, 2011: President Obama Calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Resignation — Republicans Approve — Candidates Perry, Romney, Bachmann Criticize Why Obama Waited So Long


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



Obama calls on Syrian President Assad to resign: President Obama on Thursday for the first time explicitly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, a symbolically significant step intended to ratchet up pressure on the government five months after the start of the uprising in that country. The president also issued an executive order expanding sanctions against Syrian government officials.

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community. — President Barack Obama

“The Obama Administration’s call for Syrian President Assad to step down is long overdue. President Assad threatens the safety and security not only of the Syrian people, but the entire Middle East. He also supports terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. Every diplomatic option should be brought to bear to prevent President Assad from wreaking further violence on his people and the region.” — Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Syria

“America must show leadership on the world stage and work to move these developing nations toward modernity. This means using the bullhorn of the presidency and not remaining silent for too long while voices of freedom and dissent are under attack.” — Mitt Romney’s Statement on Syria

“The recent atrocities and Assad’s brutalization of his own people in Syria are extremely alarming and reflect a long history of anti-American hostility, and I join President Obama in calling for Mr. Assad’s resignation.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Statement on Syria

U.S. and European Union Statements on Syria — NYT

  • How the US message on Assad shifted: It took about five months from the start of the Syrian uprising for the Obama administration to make the leap to saying President Assad should “step aside.” Here’s a look back at the long — and deliberate — buildup. … – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Obama Calls for Syrian President to Step Down: President Obama for the first time on Thursday explicitly called for Bashar al-Assad to leave office, and European leaders followed him with a joint statement…. – NYT, 8-18-11
  • EU Calls On Syria’s Assad To Quit, Mulls Broad Energy Sanctions: The European Union for the first time called Thursday on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power as EU leaders also threatened “strong” new sanctions, which could include an embargo on imports of Syrian … – WSJ, 8-18-11
  • Syria: Assad must resign, says Obama: Bashar al-Assad is guilty of a brutal crackdown that leaves him with no legitimacy as president of Syria, Barack Obama and EU leaders have declared…. – The Guardian, UK, 8-18-11
  • Harper calls on Assad to quit: “Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. This campaign of terror must stop. “The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power.”… – National Post, 8-18-11
  • Canada calls for Syria’s Assad to resign: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday joined the United States and the European Union in calling for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power. “Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault … – AFP, 8-18-11
  • Obama Calls For Syrian President To Resign: President Obama called on Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, marking the first time the US has demanded the leader’s resignation…. – Slate Magazine, 8-18-11
  • Obama almost wins over Hill on Syria: President Barack Obama almost caught a break on Capitol Hill Thursday, picking up bipartisan support for calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign. But still one complaint of the president emerged: What took him so long? … – Politico, 8-18-11
  • Republicans agree, briefly, with Obama on Syria: It looked like it might never happen again. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has done the near-impossible: He got Republicans and President Obama to agree on something.
    After Obama demanded Thursday morning that Assad step down in the wake of his crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, some of the president’s fiercest critics jumped aboard with their own calls for Assad’s removal. That’s where the harmony ended.
    Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry also used the occasion to chide Obama for not having called for the ouster sooner…. – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Why it took so long for Obama to say Syria’s Assad must go: Obama’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign was a long time coming. The US president didn’t wait as long after protests broke out in Egypt to say that Hosni Mubarak had to go…. – CS Monitor, 8-18-11
  • Obama finally tells Assad to go: After months of criticism for his inactivity from both sides of the political spectrum and international human rights groups President Obama today finally managed to call for Bashar al-Assad to leave…. – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Romney hits Obama over Syria: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lambasted President Barack Obama’s leadership Thursday saying his call for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to step down comes after too much blood has been shed in the country. … – CNN, 8-18-11
  • Perry: Obama overdue in call for Assad to quit: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry says President Obama’s call for the resignation of the Syrian president is long overdue. The Texas governor says Syrian President Bashar Assad supports terrorist groups and has threatened the security of the Syrian people and the region. He says that every diplomatic option should be used to force Assad to step down…. – AP, 8-18-11
  • Bachmann criticizes Obama’s action on Syria: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Thursday that President Barack Obama has moved too late and with too little force in response to Syria’s crackdown on dissent… – AP, 8-18-11
  • Report: U.S. to seek Assad’s ouster: President Barack Obama made the first explicit US call Thursday for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave his post, saying the “time has come” for the leader to step aside for “the sake of the Syrian people.” The White House also imposed tough new sanctions… Politico, 8-18-11
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