US, international opinion turns sharply against Syria's Assad
Washington says its strong stand against Assad has been 'weeks in the making' and is not simply a response to attack the US embassy in Damascus.
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The US has taken a decisive stand against President Bashar al-Assad after weeks of measured responses to Syria's crackdown on protest, signaling a shift from focusing on regional stability to more actively promoting democratic change, say news reports.
On Tuesday, in response to attacks on the US and French embassies, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Mr. Assad has "lost legitimacy" and that the US "had absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power." President Obama reiterated those statements later in the day.
But administration officials told The New York Times that the shift has been "weeks in the making" and could not be attributed merely to Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford's visit to the rebellious city of Hama and the angry Syrian response. Rather, it was a result of Assad's continued brutal crackdown on protesters and the political opposition.
Since the Syrian uprising began in March, rights groups estimate that more than 1,700 people have been killed and at least 20,000 arrested, according to Bloomberg.
"You’re seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people," Obama said on CBS Tuesday night. “He has missed opportunity after opportunity to present a genuine reform agenda. And that’s why we’ve been working at an international level to make sure we keep the pressure up.”
The turn against Assad means that the US administration has decided that maintaining the status quo – a power vacuum in Syria could cause problems with Lebanon and Israel and leave an opening for Iran – is not a worthwhile trade-off for helping keep Assad in power, the Times reports.