Obama calls for Assad to resign, freezes Syrian assets

posted at 10:08 am on August 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Hosni Mubarak got eight days of protests before Barack Obama demanded his resignation in a speech.  Libyan thug Moammar Gaddafi got 16 days before Obama called for him to leave power, and eventually went to war to push for his removal.  Today, one hundred and fifty-six days into Syrian protests and brutal crackdowns that have left hundreds and possibly thousands dead, Obama finally got around to demanding Bashar Assad’s ouster as dictator of Syria … in a written statement:

President Obama called on Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, a demand aimed to ratchet up the diplomatic pressure on the leader who has launched a bloody crackdown on his own people for months.

“For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak shortly about a new executive order to allow for additional sanctions against the Assad regime, the New York Times reported, quoting an official who described the new measures as a “tough action that will lend additional force” to the administration’s demands.

What took so long?  Obama tossed our nominal ally Mubarak under the bus in eight days, a man who kept a cold peace with Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood under control.  But the White House insisted that Assad was a “reformer,” despite his alliance with Iran, his links to Hezbollah’s terrorism in Lebanon, and assistance to Hamas in attacking Israel.  The last four months gave a steady stream of images and testimony to Assad’s ideas of “reform,” which were not only remarkably similar to his father’s but also got demonstrated most notably in the same town his father nearly buried for its dissent, Hama.

National Journal says the Obama administration will next “escalate the diplomatic pressure on Damascus,” but that may be more difficult now than before.  After watching how the Obama administration treated its ally Mubarak, the other nations in the region understood that the US was not going to be much of an ally for them, either.  The Saudis are furious about Mubarak’s treatment, for instance, and his ongoing trial won’t help matters.  The Saudis have already recalled their ambassador to Damascus, a step that Obama still hasn’t taken, unless it’s part of today’s sanctions.  The rest of the Arab League will probably take the Saudi’s lead on Assad, not Washington’s, and certainly not after the embarrassing suck-up of the last four months from Obama to Assad while his army slaughtered people in the street.

This is what Obama calls “smart power.”

Update: Yes, we do have an ambassador to Syria — Robert Ford.  When the Senate wouldn’t act to confirm him, Obama gave him a recess appointment last December.

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Obama inherited this mess because Assad was in power 1/20/09.

artist on August 18, 2011 at 10:10 AM

OT: Market down 500, 10 year Note under 2%

Oil Can on August 18, 2011 at 10:11 AM

After testing the water for about, uhm, 160 days; he’s decide to wade in up to his knees. Wow, what a B plus president.

jbh45 on August 18, 2011 at 10:12 AM

artist on August 18, 2011 at 10:10 AM

So he ignored the canker. Perfect.

Limerick on August 18, 2011 at 10:12 AM

The Obama kiss of death. Expect a Syrian massacre now.

JammieWearingFool on August 18, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Obama tossed our nominal ally Mubarak under the bus in eight days, a man who kept a cold peace with Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood under control.

You appear to have answered your own question, ED.

OldEnglish on August 18, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Ed, we currently have no ambassador to Syria. The position was recalled in 2005 over the assassination of Rafic Hariri.

NotCoach on August 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Seriously, what took so long? Did they think this guy was going to “get out of the way” on his own?? Even if Mr. President didn’t have a strategy shouldn’t his advisers and SOS and defense people have had one? Hillary sounds like a little pipsqueak when she tries to sound tough. This whole administration is a joke.

scalleywag on August 18, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Oh goody. Are we going to go to war with Syria too now?

Socmodfiscon on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM

no worries, dear leader going on his vacay…

cmsinaz on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM

This whole administration is a joke.

scalleywag on August 18, 2011 at 10:17 AM

It is the Joe vs the Volcano Dept of State.

Limerick on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Ed, we currently have no ambassador to Syria. The position was recalled in 2005 over the assassination of Rafic Hariri.

NotCoach on August 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM

We do have an Ambassador in Syria. Ford I believe. Obama reinstated it.

sandee on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Well, the administration had to do sometthing to look important before taking another vacation.

ORconservative on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

NotCoach on August 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Nevermind. I am wrong. The current ambassadors to Syria is Robert Stephen Ford.

NotCoach on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

sandee on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Yeah. My bad.

NotCoach on August 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Oh goody. Are we going to go to war with Syria too now?

Socmodfiscon on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM

No but maybe with an arm around David the Barry folks could have used Assad’s woes to bring him to the table and hammer out a deal.

Limerick on August 18, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Leading from behind again? We should have elected a horse. At lead it would be in front of the cart.

Don L on August 18, 2011 at 10:22 AM

But he can’t withdraw his ambassador to Syria lest that be taken as an admission that reestablishing full diplomatic relations with Assad the tyrant was (yet) a(nother) massive blunder.

ProfessorMiao on August 18, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Because POTUS decides who runs what countries, what car companies…

Akzed on August 18, 2011 at 10:23 AM

What took so long?

The S.S. Martha’s Vineyard had to be safely under way before Obama could send out his strongly worded telegram … by pony express.

Obama didn’t want to look too much like a unilateral cowboy ya know.

VibrioCocci on August 18, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Obama inherited this mess because Assad was in power 1/20/09.

Oh, then Syria must be one of those countries that Obama promised us would learn to like us again, once he was president. Hows that “Syria likes America” bumper sticker working out for you?

Don L on August 18, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Alternate Headline:

Assad downgraded to AA+ by solid B+ President

TXUS on August 18, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Did the Japan tsunami cause these bad decisions as well? Oh wait, I think it was BOOOSH!

search4truth on August 18, 2011 at 10:27 AM

We do have an Ambassador in Syria. Ford I believe. Obama reinstated it.

sandee on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Of course he did. You can’t really negotiate with a tyrant and terrorist regime if you don’t have an ambassador there.

TXUS on August 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

The Caliphate grows

faraway on August 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Assad said he “Won’t quit!” He prefers to be fired so he can qualify for unemployment benefits!

Justrand on August 18, 2011 at 10:35 AM

He waited so long because he’s embarrassed.

After campaigning endlessly about America’s cowboy diplomacy in the Middle East, Obama appointed the first US ambassador to Syria since 2005.

Syria, after all, was just misunderstood. Sure they had a short lived covert nuclear program in 2007 (by the way, thanks Israel), and sure they went a bit far after assassinating Rafic Hariri, but they deserved to be treated as our equals.

And now, after thousands of dead protesters, Obama is realizing that Assad, just like Mubarak and Gaddafi, might be resistant to his Messianic powers of teleprompter magic.

Who would have thought?

You-Eh-Vee on August 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Remember in 2006 and 2007, when Pelosi, Biden and the Dems probably Unconstitutionally went around Bush and the State Department and met and had private meetings with Assad?

jp on August 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Note for the Dems: it takes Hard Power to deal with hard Power. Hard Power welcomes but mocks Soft Power

jp on August 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM

jp on August 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

And Mr Kerry. Making pledges of tightening the Israelis dog chain and promising pre 67 nirvana.

Limerick on August 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Of course he did. You can’t really negotiate with a tyrant and terrorist regime if you don’t have an ambassador there.

TXUS on August 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

That’s funny, because both Iraq and Afghanistan were without an ambassador, and I think their governments still got Bush’s text messages.

You-Eh-Vee on August 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Obama won’t mess with a guy named “Basher” Assad.

cartooner on August 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM

It is the Joe vs the Volcano Dept of State.

Limerick on August 18, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Village idiots! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNBNqUdqm1E

scalleywag on August 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

President Obama called on Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called on Thursday for President Obama to step down.

Fixed it.

Mangy Scot on August 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM

his alliance with Iran, his links to Hezbollah’s terrorism in Lebanon, and assistance to Hamas in attacking Israel

Those are features. They are the primary reason POTUS did not engage him.

antisocial on August 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

I’m sure Barry’s actions will bear fruit in just a matter of days, not weeks.

snicker…………..

GarandFan on August 18, 2011 at 11:10 AM

We’ll be treating them like Libya next… Fabulous…

Khun Joe on August 18, 2011 at 11:17 AM

At least the oceans aren’t rising.

exhelodrvr on August 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM

So… What’s up in Libya lately Barry?
-

RalphyBoy on August 18, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Obama calls for Assad to resign, freezes Syrian assets

Gee, after 156 days, Assad probably pulled all his assets out of US banks a long time ago.

“For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Obama said in a statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak shortly about a new executive order to allow for additional sanctions against the Assad regime, the New York Times reported, quoting an official who described the new measures as a “tough action that will lend additional force” to the administration’s demands.

Bashar, you’re a bad, bad boy, and I’m going to tell my mommy the UN on you!

Steve Z on August 18, 2011 at 11:26 AM

The pile of innocent bodies in the Syrian streets got too big to ignore, I suppose.

Bishop on August 18, 2011 at 11:30 AM

About time.

When the freedom and peace loving Saudies pull their ambassador before us for human rights reasons…

The_Livewire on August 18, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Wait…the president can just issue an order freezing or seizing the financial assets of a foreign government or head of state?

Oh…I remember…something about a ‘presidential finding’..ya, it’s all clear to me now. The President determines that a foreign government is …something….something….terrorist and bingo, he can freeze their ass[ets].

What has Syria ever done to US? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. All the president has to do is declare someone a terrorist, like those tea party rebels attempting to destabilize his government, and bingo, freeze their bank accounts.

Skandia Recluse on August 18, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Once again, the ObaMao administration is pushing for increasing the political strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, this time in Syria.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/274969/annals-arab-spring-obama-administration-backs-muslim-brotherhood-syria-andrew-c-mccart

onlineanalyst on August 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Obama expects Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down after he’s seen what happened to Mubarak when he stepped down?

And why is Obama backing the Muslim brotherhood instead of the more over pro-democracy Syrian opposition groups? I suspect Obama longs for an eventual violent gang up on Israel.

Chessplayer on August 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Well, the administration had to do something to look important impotent before taking another vacation.

ORconservative on August 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Fixed.

And why is Obama backing the Muslim brotherhood instead of the more over pro-democracy Syrian opposition groups? I suspect Obama longs for an eventual violent gang up on Israel.

Chessplayer on August 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Bingo.

Obama’s behavior is comprehensible, once you realize that he and his minions are still fully committed to the “Maharishi” school of admiring Eastern cultures. (They are so mystical, and feeling, and true!) And of utterly refusing to distinguish between them. (Buddhism is so wonderful! Therefore Islam, being more widespread, is even more wonderful! And the more anti-Western they are, the more perfectly marvelous!)

Obama despised Mubarak for making peace with Israel, which The One regards as an outpost of evil, “unfeeling” Westernism in the morally superior, mystical East. He was ambivalent about Qaddafi (who toned down his rhetoric after seeing what happened to Saddam), until he needed a PR boost.

Assad he views as an “authentic” Eastern ruler, precisely due to his hostility toward the West in general, and Israel in particular. As such, to take definitive and effective action against Assad would require Obama to question his romanticization of the East, which operates at about Sir Richard Francis Burton levels. And that, he just cannot do.

So, this action is mainly intended for domestic consumption here. It lets him look “tough”, while not actually doing anything likely to seriously impede Assad, or affect his “relationship” with same.

You have to almost feel sorry for The One. He has a head full of leftist academic theory, and reality keeps running roughshod over him.

(Note I said “almost”.)

clear ether

eon

eon on August 18, 2011 at 3:11 PM