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Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Tracking the Issues: Obama Tells Assad to Step Aside

by Newsteam Staff
February 6, 2012

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice votes on the UN resolution on Syria, February 4, 2012. (Allison Joyce/Courtesy Reuters)


The Obama administration has closed its embassy in Damascus (CNN), recalling all of its diplomats. In a harshly worded statement on February 4, President Obama reiterated his call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power without delay, saying “Assad has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community.” Obama’s statement came one day after a violent crackdown by government forces that left hundreds dead, and just prior to a UN Security Council vote on a draft resolution (NYT) backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria. The draft resolution failed (WSJ), thirteen to two, after Russia and China — two of the five permanent members with veto power — opposed it.

On Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said in an interview with CBS that that the United States could take covert action against Assad. “I think there are a lot of things we could do covertly in terms of supplying weapons, supplying — helping people in the region supply advisers,” he said. “I don’t think you need to use American troops, but you do need to communicate that those who are opposed to Assad will get the kind of support they need in order to defeat him.”

To see more about the candidates’ positions check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on Democracy Promotion in the Arab World.

Suggested Other Reading:

In Foreign Affairs, Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, looks at Russia’s veto and why Moscow “wants to halt the Arab Spring.”

Marc Lynch of says the UN Security Council failed Syria by failing to agree to a resolution condemning violence.

–Liriel Higa, Contributing Editor

1 Comment

  • Posted by Danny Liu

    The real reason they don’t want to abandon Afghanistan is, because of the Exxon Mobile’s pipeline pumping oil from Afghanistan. George Bush Jr. brags he went to Iraq for the oil, to show off to his affluent friends. So instead of half the national deficit, we have it double, they want to build permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, so big oil, and the Republican’s can get rich. So why do they want to make Afghanistan a permanent duty station so they can protect the interest’s of big oil and the pipeline, before they started drilling and pumping oil out of Afghanistan, the country was considered the largest untapped oil resource in the world. They don’t talk much about the pipeline now because the Billionaire’s and corporations have silence everyone. I don’t vote and support neither party. George Bush Jr and the Republican party wanted to control the oil infrastructure of Iraq, and Afghanistan to enrich themselves, Billions traded for the corporations, while America accumulated Trillions in national debt, not such a good trade off, but it was for 1% of the population. The people of Afghanistan live simple lives as farmers and ranchers, living off of mountain goats, and sheep’s, and simple crops, too stupid to realize what they have an abundant source of natural resources that they do not benefit from, while Hamid Karzai hordes over 100 Billion in secret accounts for himself. The people of Afghanistan use horses and donkeys, and pick up trucks, as their main weapons, while military contractor’s keep building new weapon system’s for themselves and get richer, America goes down hill in debt. China owns 11% of the national debt, and Japan owns 10% and they are over 200% over GDP in national debt. So who owns most of the national debt Private Security Firms profiting off the national debt of the U.S.