The United States is leading an all-out effort to bring a swift end to the tyrannical regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In recent congressional testimony, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman chronicled the many ways in which pressure is being brought to bear on Assad.
Europe has joined in sanctioning the Central Bank of Syria, impeding the financing of the regimes’ brutal crackdown. Also, the European Union has fully implemented its embargo on oil purchases from Syria, halting a third of the government’s revenues.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership, with many Arab states downgrading diplomatic relations and freezing Syrian bank accounts. The Arab League has put forth a political transition plan for Syria, and over 137 countries supported a United Nations resolution supporting the Arab League’s transition plan. Moreover, more than sixty countries and institutions met in Tunis as Friends of the Syrian People to endorse the Arab transition plan and to demand an immediate end to the violence.
In response, the Syrian regime has intensified its vicious campaign against its own people. Large numbers of Syrians are living every day under siege, deprived of basic necessities including food, clean water and medical supplies. Women and children are wounded and dying for lack of treatment. Innocent people are detained and tortured, and their families are left to fear the worst.
This cannot continue. The breaking point will come in Syria, said Assistant Secretary Feltman. To hasten the end Assad’s of tyranny and ease the suffering the Syrian people, the U.S. is moving ahead with ten million dollars in immediate humanitarian assistance, with millions more from other countries.
The U.S. is also engaging with the Syrian opposition on how to build a democratic future that upholds the fundamental rights of all Syrians.
The Assad regime has been a malignant blight in the Middle East for far too long. The goal of the opposition and the Friends of the Syrian People alike, said Assistant Secretary Feltman, is a Syrian-led political transition to democratic government based on the rule of law and the will of the people with protection of minority rights.