• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • U.S. Closes Embassy in Syria; Should Take Action Against Assad Regime

    Demonstrations and funeral in Douma, near Damascus, Syria on February 4, 2012, after one of the deadliest days in more than 10 months of troubles in the country. Photo by ABACAPRESS.COM

    With the crisis in Syria escalating, CNN reports that the U.S. State Department has closed its embassy there, pulling out all remaining staff due to security concerns. With the regime’s systematic attacks growing more violent and the potential for sectarian civil war to unfold, the United States should help ease the suffering of the Syrian people and speed the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by increasing sanctions, providing humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees, and providing diplomatic and economic support—all while holding back from direct military intervention.

    The decision to close the embassy comes amid anti-government protests that are now 11 months old—and a violent government crackdown on the uprising that today has left more than 5,000 people dead. Just two days ago, the United Nations Security Council rejected a resolution condemning Syria’s violent repression of anti-government protesters, with Russia and China vetoing the measure. And today, President Obama weighed in, saying that it is important to resolve the conflict without military intervention.

    Tragically, the Assad regime has adamantly rejected long-overdue political reforms or political compromise with the opposition. Its circumstances, though, are unlike those in Libya. While Muammar al-Qadhafi was isolated from the international community, Assad has friends in Russia. And whereas the Libyan rebel forces were disjointed, those in Syria are even more disorganized. But Assad lacks financial resources, making him more vulnerable to sanctions—and sanctions should be a central tool in pressuring the Assad regime to step down.

    Yet to date, the Obama Administration has been behind the curve on confronting Syria’s threat. The President initially sought to engage Assad and sought to reverse the Bush Administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. ambassador from Damascus in 2005 after the Rafik Hariri assassination. Remarkably, the Obama White House has held back criticism, even among the violence that the Syrian government has unleashed on the once-peaceful protesters. Only in August did the President call for Assad to step down after three rounds of escalating sanctions.

    The Obama Administration’s soft-pedaling of Syria comes even though the regime is a state sponsor of terror, houses political prisoners, ordered an attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus, threatened the U.S. ambassador, and continues the killing of its people even today. Heritage’s James Phillips recommends actions for the Obama Administration:

    • To help expedite the fall of the regime, the United States should work with allies, especially Turkey, to tighten sanctions against Syria. The EU, which accounts for about 90 percent of Syrian oil exports, banned imports of Syrian oil in November. Escalating sanctions could exacerbate Syria’s economic situation and peel away support for the regime by encouraging the defection of the urban Sunni merchant class, which has been an important pillar of Assad’s support.
    • Washington should also examine the opposition forces and consider whether they could be partners committed to building a free Syria. If so, the United States should expand its economic, diplomatic, and political support for the opposition.

    President Obama is correct that military intervention is not the solution for Syria, but it is wrong to withhold criticism and only lightly impose sanctions on a regime that is brutally murdering its people. The U.S. should take action to help bring about Assad’s downfall and bring to an end the dictator’s brutal attacks on his people.


    Click here to view this post in Spanish at Libertad.org.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to U.S. Closes Embassy in Syria; Should Take Action Against Assad Regime

    1. Mr. Obama is unwilling to tangle with this proxy state of Iran. Furthermore, I do not put much stock in help from Turkey under Erdogan, no matter whatever dwindling importance that country has as a member of NATO. It's too bad, because my experience with the Turkish people has been positive, but they are at the mercy of a "born again" Islamist and only the western press here in America thinks highly of their leader. Last, we can make all the recommendations we want to Obama and he will not listen, nor will the Europeans with years of experience at doing nothing make an effort to stop the bloodshed… sanctions are no more than a diplomatic joke, which very few dictators take seriously.

    2. @Calorus says:

      America cannot afford any more wars.

      America needs to deal with the people in tents cities and living in the storm drains under Las Vegas before spending money fighting people for the freedom of those populations which are at least clothed, fed and housed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.