Opinion: Bashar al-Assad must step down

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By Robert P. Casey Jr.

Scores have been killed in Hama, Syria, in recent days. Despite a sustained assault by government forces, Syrians continue to demonstrate in the thousands — a testament to their courage, their cause, and their desire for the most basic elements of human rights and human dignity. The horror taking place in Syria has led me and others in the Senate to conclude that this regime is not capable of real reform. It has lost all legitimacy. We must be direct and unequivocal in our message to the dictator of Damascus: Bashar al-Assad must step down. The Syrian people should not have to bear the brutality of this regime any longer.

Nor should Syrians outside that country suffer from the terrible reach of this regime. Sakher Hallak visited the United States in May to attend a medical conference. Sakher, the brother of a naturalized American citizen from Syria who is a respected oncology researcher, disappeared upon his return. His wife contacted authorities, who confirmed that he was in their custody and said that he would be released shortly. The next day, Sakher’s wife and daughter were interviewed by authorities, who again said that he would be released.

Two days later, Sakher’s mutilated body was discovered in a village about 12 miles south of Aleppo, the city in northern Syria where he was from. Several bones were broken. Syrian authorities have denied Sakher was ever in their custody and said they found his body in a ditch by the side of a road.

Sakher was not a political activist. He was not involved in the demonstrations. His sole “offense” appears to be that he attended a conference and visited his brother in the United States.

Assad has ruled Syria by force and repression since 2000, following the precedent set by his father. Syrians have been protesting the regime since March, when government authorities arrested 15 schoolchildren in the city of Daraa for spray painting anti-government slogans. These children were reportedly tortured while in custody, and authorities resorted to force when their parents and others in their community called for their release. Within a week, police had killed 55 people.

The world has watched as the violence has mounted through the spring and summer, as Assad’s government tries to hold on to power by force.

Amid Assad’s campaign of terror, we cannot forget his support for terrorism abroad. Assad’s fall could have significant ramifications across the region: It would weaken Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which would no longer have a foothold in Damascus. It would reduce the strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, which continues to stockpile weapons that it receives from Syria. And it would limit Hamas’s ability to conduct terrorist operations in Gaza.

Our allies in the Arab League and in Turkey could play a critical role in pressuring Assad — they have economic and diplomatic ties with Syria that the United States does not. Congress and the administration should make efforts to leverage these relationships for a comprehensive regional approach to the crisis in Syria. We should also applaud our allies who have rejected the Assad regime.

Meanwhile, the United States should continue to pursue a resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning the Syrian government’s behavior. Last week’s statement by the council was a positive step but should be bolstered by a strong resolution.

We must also continue to pursue efforts that constrict the regime’s ability to conduct business abroad. The European Union announced a freeze on Syrian assets last week and travel bans on five more military and government officials. The international community must also be willing to examine expanded sanctions on the banking and energy sectors.

Our diplomats, led by Ambassador Robert Ford, have pursued American interests and values abroad. Ford’s recent trip to Hama, in which he met with Syrian citizens and expressed support for their right to peacefully demonstrate, underscored that the most basic American value, the right of democratic representation, is at stake in Syria.

The number of Syrians killed in pursuit of democratic government and basic human dignities since this spring has by some estimates reached 2,000. This does not include those who have been tortured and survived. We honor the memory of Sakher Hallek and hundreds of others by supporting democratic change in Syria.

The writer, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs.

WP

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31 responses to “Opinion: Bashar al-Assad must step down”

  1. Patience2 Avatar
    Patience2

    If even PART of the things said about Bashar(and his family) are factual, SOMEONE must put them down soonest!  This smacks of ‘old Assyria’ and how they treated their enemies.  Are the Syrian people the ‘enemies’ of Bashar(and his family)??  Is there a subtle reason(that I am missing) WHY this is lingering, and lingering and lingering??

  2.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    If even PART of the things said about Bashar(and his family) are factual, SOMEONE must put them down soonest!  This smacks of ‘old Assyria’ and how they treated their enemies.  Are the Syrian people the ‘enemies’ of Bashar(and his family)??  Is there a subtle reason(that I am missing) WHY this is lingering, and lingering and lingering??

  3. nagy_michael2 Avatar
    nagy_michael2

    Assad and his family fate will be no different than Saddam! The people are so angry and after Assad alienating so many countries chances are nobody will take them. I see the Syrian people attacking his palace and dragging him and his cocktail wife to the streets and hang them high and dry. Oh I am sure Maher and his brother-in-law shawakat will be greeted with the same hostility. Once that done, Hezbollah will be vulnerable and unfortunately beacuse of HA actions against the peacefull protesters. The Sunnis will be attacking all shiites regardless of their political affliations. God help us all and save Lebanon from Israel, Syria and Iran..but most of all from hezbollah the criminal party that has been terrorizing us for decades..

    1. LOL, Nagy.  don;t fall for the propaganda. “Saved from Israel et al.?  If one does not wish  for Israel to counter-attack, then don’t attack it!   That is one of the major problems with the Hezzies. They attacked Israel and said, to hell with innocent Lebanese citizens who may get hurt when Israel reacts to protect themselves.  That  is also a reason to get the Hezzies out fo the government ASAP. 

      Last time the Israels distinguished between Lebanese and the Hezzies.  With HA being part of the government, this time they will not or cannot make this distinction. 

      God save us /the world from the Hezzies and almost all problems go away overnight: NO counter-attacks by Israel, NO Syrian and Iran influence and brutality and opression in the form of their proxy army, HA.  Oh, while we are at it…Iran and Syria can take Mikati, Aoun and Jumblatt.

  4.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Assad and his family fate will be no different than Saddam! The people are so angry and after Assad alienating so many countries chances are nobody will take them. I see the Syrian people attacking his palace and dragging him and his cocktail wife to the streets and hang them high and dry. Oh I am sure Maher and his brother-in-law shawakat will be greeted with the same hostility. Once that done, Hezbollah will be vulnerable and unfortunately beacuse of HA actions against the peacefull protesters. The Sunnis will be attacking all shiites regardless of their political affliations. God help us all and save Lebanon from Israel, Syria and Iran..but most of all from hezbollah the criminal party that has been terrorizing us for decades..

    1. LOL, Nagy.  don;t fall for the propaganda. “Saved from Israel et al.?  If one does not wish  for Israel to counter-attack, then don’t attack it!   That is one of the major problems with the Hezzies. They attacked Israel and said, to hell with innocent Lebanese citizens who may get hurt when Israel reacts to protect themselves.  That  is also a reason to get the Hezzies out fo the government ASAP. 

      Last time the Israels distinguished between Lebanese and the Hezzies.  With HA being part of the government, this time they will not or cannot make this distinction. 

      God save us /the world from the Hezzies and almost all problems go away overnight: NO counter-attacks by Israel, NO Syrian and Iran influence and brutality and opression in the form of their proxy army, HA.  Oh, while we are at it…Iran and Syria can take Mikati, Aoun and Jumblatt.

    2. LOL, Nagy.  don;t fall for the propaganda. “Saved from Israel et al.?  If one does not wish  for Israel to counter-attack, then don’t attack it!   That is one of the major problems with the Hezzies. They attacked Israel and said, to hell with innocent Lebanese citizens who may get hurt when Israel reacts to protect themselves.  That  is also a reason to get the Hezzies out fo the government ASAP. 

      Last time the Israels distinguished between Lebanese and the Hezzies.  With HA being part of the government, this time they will not or cannot make this distinction. 

      God save us /the world from the Hezzies and almost all problems go away overnight: NO counter-attacks by Israel, NO Syrian and Iran influence and brutality and opression in the form of their proxy army, HA.  Oh, while we are at it…Iran and Syria can take Mikati, Aoun and Jumblatt.

  5. Fauzia45 Avatar

    People who are demanding their fundamental human rights,their dignity as humans ,have to be protected ,saved from brutal repressions wherever they are!Governments are supposed to protect their people,work for their welfare and serve them not arrest,torture and kill ,burn and destroy to hold on to their chairs!Unfortunately such regimes do not step down!They do not listen  and do not see !!

    1. 7akibalash Avatar
      7akibalash

      yep, and one of those regimes is in its infancy and growing fast right here in our back yard.

      1. Fauzia45 Avatar

        Let us hope that it does not find the right kind of fertile ground !!!

      2. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        i doubt it is in its infancy…they have been like this since their establishment but they have managed to decieve virtually just about anyone and say they fight for lebanon against zionist aggression.

  6. Fauzia45 Avatar

    People who are demanding their fundamental human rights,their dignity as humans ,have to be protected ,saved from brutal repressions wherever they are!Governments are supposed to protect their people,work for their welfare and serve them not arrest,torture and kill ,burn and destroy to hold on to their chairs!Unfortunately such regimes do not step down!They do not listen  and do not see !!

    1. 7akibalash Avatar
      7akibalash

      yep, and one of those regimes is in its infancy and growing fast right here in our back yard.

      1. antar2011 Avatar
        antar2011

        i doubt it is in its infancy…they have been like this since their establishment but they have managed to decieve virtually just about anyone and say they fight for lebanon against zionist aggression.

  7.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    People who are demanding their fundamental human rights,their dignity as humans ,have to be protected ,saved from brutal repressions wherever they are!Governments are supposed to protect their people,work for their welfare and serve them not arrest,torture and kill ,burn and destroy to hold on to their chairs!Unfortunately such regimes do not step down!They do not listen  and do not see !!

    1.  Avatar
      Anonymous

      yep, and one of those regimes is in its infancy and growing fast right here in our back yard.

      1.  Avatar
        Anonymous

        Let us hope that it does not find the right kind of fertile ground !!!

      2.  Avatar
        Anonymous

        i doubt it is in its infancy…they have been like this since their establishment but they have managed to decieve virtually just about anyone and say they fight for lebanon against zionist aggression.

  8. Bashar is done…..soon, it will all be over for him…..he won’t last more than 30/45 days…no way….

  9. Bashar is done…..soon, it will all be over for him…..he won’t last more than 30/45 days…no way….

  10. 2160John Avatar

    If NATO and the US are so keen on making Qaddafi and Bashar step down then why don’t they kill them themselves.

    Won’t this spare the lives of thousands of people?? Well, the real answer is that they don’t want them dead. They want to gain the support of their people so they can use them as a way to sneak into the country and eventually rule it like they did with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia got tricked into signing oil and gas contracts with Western companies and now the country has become tied up to the US. The US can dictate the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia through using the economy as a weapon. They both rely on each other so they are working on mutual benefit. The Saudi Arabian royal family has the Islamic values of a Satanist. The princes do more cocaine than Tony Montana and it is the number one importer of liquor in the GCC(behind closed doors of course). It is only by name they claim to be Muslim but behind closed doors they are full fledged freemasons. Any Saudi leader who goes against them will be assassinated like in the case of King Faisal.

    They basically got Saudi Arabia by its throat and this is what they plan to do to Syria and Libya. Syria did not accept Article 6 of the IMF. Libya proposed the United States of Africa where all 53 nations would join as one. The West fearing a United Africa then proposed linking Northern Africa with Southern Europe to improve trade to try to avoid this. Qaddafi has donated billions to building roads, housing Libyans and improving the Libyan economy. He is costing International Banks billions of dollars every passing year. They tried character assassination over the years many times including the framing of Libya for the Lockerbie bombing. They then convinced Qaddafi to pay compensation by blackmailing him if he didn’t and promised him that he would  be kept in power if he did. A couple of years later they are at him again. If they succeed in Syria and Libya then their next step will be to start a conflict in Lebanon. They will tell Israel to attack like they did in 2006 in an attempt to subjugate the Lebanese people. Hopefully this plan will fail and so will all the bigoted biased people who comment on this site.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      “then why don’t they kill them themselves”  2160?
      Because there are citizens like you who would bitch too much, and have the freedom to do so in a country where politicians are required to at least listen on occasion.

  11.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    If NATO and the US are so keen on making Qaddafi and Bashar step down then why don’t they kill them themselves.

    Won’t this spare the lives of thousands of people?? Well, the real answer is that they don’t want them dead. They want to gain the support of their people so they can use them as a way to sneak into the country and eventually rule it like they did with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia got tricked into signing oil and gas contracts with Western companies and now the country has become tied up to the US. The US can dictate the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia through using the economy as a weapon. They both rely on each other so they are working on mutual benefit. The Saudi Arabian royal family has the Islamic values of a Satanist. The princes do more cocaine than Tony Montana and it is the number one importer of liquor in the GCC(behind closed doors of course). It is only by name they claim to be Muslim but behind closed doors they are full fledged freemasons. Any Saudi leader who goes against them will be assassinated like in the case of King Faisal.

    They basically got Saudi Arabia by its throat and this is what they plan to do to Syria and Libya. Syria did not accept Article 6 of the IMF. Libya proposed the United States of Africa where all 53 nations would join as one. The West fearing a United Africa then proposed linking Northern Africa with Southern Europe to improve trade to try to avoid this. Qaddafi has donated billions to building roads, housing Libyans and improving the Libyan economy. He is costing International Banks billions of dollars every passing year. They tried character assassination over the years many times including the framing of Libya for the Lockerbie bombing. They then convinced Qaddafi to pay compensation by blackmailing him if he didn’t and promised him that he would  be kept in power if he did. A couple of years later they are at him again. If they succeed in Syria and Libya then their next step will be to start a conflict in Lebanon. They will tell Israel to attack like they did in 2006 in an attempt to subjugate the Lebanese people. Hopefully this plan will fail and so will all the bigoted biased people who comment on this site.

    1.  Avatar

      “then why don’t they kill them themselves”  2160?
      Because there are citizens like you who would bitch too much, and have the freedom to do so in a country where politicians are required to at least listen on occasion.

  12. andre2011 Avatar

    Is This dictator of Syria?A Syrian? An Arab.? A Muslim? A Human Being? To use tanks and heavy weapons against His People? Forty two years using the people’s money of Syria to bulid an army to protect Syria and liberate Golan Heights. This same army with all his tanks and heavy weapons is having orders from the dictator to kill any one who does not worship Bachar and his father Hafez. But still there are some human beings who are proud of Bachar’s acts.

  13. andre2011 Avatar

    Is This dictator of Syria?A Syrian? An Arab.? A Muslim? A Human Being? To use tanks and heavy weapons against His People? Forty two years using the people’s money of Syria to bulid an army to protect Syria and liberate Golan Heights. This same army with all his tanks and heavy weapons is having orders from the dictator to kill any one who does not worship Bachar and his father Hafez. But still there are some human beings who are proud of Bachar’s acts.

  14.  Avatar

    Is This dictator of Syria?A Syrian? An Arab.? A Muslim? A Human Being? To use tanks and heavy weapons against His People? Forty two years using the people’s money of Syria to bulid an army to protect Syria and liberate Golan Heights. This same army with all his tanks and heavy weapons is having orders from the dictator to kill any one who does not worship Bachar and his father Hafez. But still there are some human beings who are proud of Bachar’s acts.

  15. andre2011 Avatar

    Why dictators in the Arab World would like to see their people masacared and their countries destroyed before they decide to leave. What is wrong with them? Mubarak, Saleh, kadafi, bachar , his father and others? Do they have that  kind of  mad dogs sickness  that no other human being has it? 

    1. a blend of big ego+arrogance+pride+narcissizm= diabolical dictators.

  16.  Avatar

    Why dictators in the Arab World would like to see their people masacared and their countries destroyed before they decide to leave. What is wrong with them? Mubarak, Saleh, kadafi, bachar , his father and others? Do they have that  kind of  mad dogs sickness  that no other human being has it? 

    1. a blend of big ego+arrogance+pride+narcissizm= diabolical dictators.

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