WH orders Syrian embassy and consulates shuttered

posted at 2:01 pm on March 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Did a UN report on atrocities in Syria prompt the Obama administration to order Syria to close its embassy and consulates and their personnel to leave the US? Or is this a warning signal to the Syrian regime’s chief protector, Vladimir Putin? The timing is curious, to say the least, and the State Department explained that a decision by the Bashar al-Assad regime to suspend consular services in the US:

The Obama administration ordered the Syrian government on Tuesday to suspend its diplomatic and consular missions in the United States, requiring all personnel who are not legal U.S residents to leave the country.

The order, three years after the start of Syria’s bloody civil war, essentially shutters the Syrian embassy in Washington and its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, Texas. It comes in response to a decision by President Bashar Assad’s government to suspend consular services for Syrians living in the U.S.

On the other hand, State also declared that it wants to keep diplomatic relations in place with Syria:

This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Syrian revolution. For three years, Bashar al-Assad has refused to heed the call of the Syrian people to step aside. He has directed a war against his own people and created a humanitarian catastrophe in order to hold on to power and protect his narrow interests.

Following the announcement that the Syrian Embassy has suspended its provision of consular services, and in consideration of the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people, we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States.

Consequently, the United States notified the Syrian government today that it must immediately suspend operations of its Embassy in Washington, D.C. and its honorary consulates in Troy, Michigan, and Houston, Texas. Syrian diplomats at the embassy and Syrian honorary consulates are no longer permitted to perform diplomatic or consular functions and those who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents must depart the United States.

Despite the differences between our governments, the United States continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people, an interest that will endure long after Bashar al-Assad leaves power.

The United States will continue to assist those seeking change in Syria, to help end the slaughter, and to resolve the crisis through negotiations – for the benefit of the Syrian people.

It took three years to reach this conclusion? Some might find it a surprise that we still have diplomatic relations at all with Assad, but that’s been a relic of the initial conclusion by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that Assad was a “reformer.” Even after demanding Assad’s resignation, freezing his assets, and threatening to bomb Assad’s forces for crossing the “red line” of chemical-weapons use, the US and Syria have maintained diplomatic relations. Suddenly closing off consular services seems like small potatoes in comparison.

It’s possible that this report from UN human-rights investigators could have prompted this, but it’s just as condemnatory on Assad’s enemies as the Assad regime:

Jihadist rebels have carried out mass executions of detainees in Syria, UN human rights investigators say.

The commission of inquiry’s latest report documents several incidents blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Government forces are meanwhile accused of sharply increasing their use of indiscriminate weapons, such as barrel-bombs, against civilians. …

In addition, the UN investigators found that after 20 January the government ramped up its campaign of dropping barrel-bombs – explosive-filled cylinders or oil barrels – onto densely-populated residential districts of Aleppo, with devastating consequences.

The unceasing bombardment – at the same time as representatives of the government were attending peace talks with the opposition in Geneva – caused extensive civilian casualties and led to the large-scale displacement of people from targeted areas, the report says.

It’s awful, and the Syrian civil was has been especially horrific on Christians caught in the crossfire. That’s nothing new, either. We’ve known about atrocities since the beginning of the conflict, and in fact it has been one of the pretexts for intervention cited by Obama himself with his red lines and members of both parties in Congress. Until now, we haven’t demanded the expulsion of Syrian diplomats over it.

This seems like a broader message, and one for an audience not limited to Bashar al-Assad. The US may well be sending a not-so-subtle signal of intervention in Syria as a counter-threat to more action by Putin in Ukraine. It certainly seems to indicate the end of the Russo-American partnership on bringing that conflict to an end.


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They were still open?

Gatsu on March 18, 2014 at 2:04 PM

No.

This is part of the larger Putin vs Obama Cold War. I don’t the think the world can take both egos at once.

Oil Can on March 18, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Three years to get this done?

From a US Government that Barak Obama declared ‘does things right’.

To be fair, he did not say ‘timely’ or ‘fast’.

s1im on March 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Does this mean no more dinner dates between Pelosi and Assad?

Flange on March 18, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Not so long ago…

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:07 PM

For years Hillary Clinton and John Kerry told us what a swell guy Assaad is.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:09 PM

This is part of the larger Putin vs Obama Cold War. I don’t the think the world can take both egos at once.

Oil Can on March 18, 2014 at 2:04 PM

The 1980s called. It tried to say something but was laughing its ass off too much for that to happen.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

For years Hillary Clinton and John Kerry told us what a swell guy Assaad is.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:09 PM

That was before they discovered that the rebels were actually Jeffersonian democrats.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:13 PM

For years Hillary Clinton and John Kerry told us what a swell guy Assaad is.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:09 PM

…Boxer and Pelosi were “wet” about him!…he was a moderate!

KOOLAID2 on March 18, 2014 at 2:16 PM

If you like your embassy….well you know the rest.

Deano1952 on March 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Didn’t Kerry and Heinz eat dinner with Mr and Mrs. Assad? Hey – and remember that sweel Vogue article on the super saavy Mrs. Assad?

djl130 on March 18, 2014 at 2:19 PM

the missiles outta start rain’n down on the goat herders n 3….2…

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM

What is this ?? 3 years late ??

J_Crater on March 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM

The 80′s want their President back !

LeftCoastRight on March 18, 2014 at 2:22 PM

The 1980s called. It tried to say something but was laughing its ass off too much for that to happen.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The Russians have Drago in their corner. We have the guy from the EPA in Ghostbusters. And our guy smokes too…

Oil Can on March 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM

As more people see 0bama for what he is, and dems in general panic over this November, I see our president getting more and more desperate. Things could get dangerous.

cozmo on March 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Passive-Aggressive as foreign policy.
Too bad “leaders” are in short supply, that we have to substitute a bunch of thumb-sucking bed-wetters.

Another Drew on March 18, 2014 at 2:29 PM

So we’ve cut Russia from the US-Euro cocktail circuit, and now we’re kicking Syria out of the US? This is diabolical.

BKeyser on March 18, 2014 at 2:29 PM

As more people see 0bama for what he is, and dems in general panic over this November, I see our president getting more and more desperate. Things could get dangerous.

cozmo on March 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Agreed. Obama will start WW III if he thinks it will help him in the midterms.

Kaffa on March 18, 2014 at 2:29 PM

It took three years to reach this conclusion?

Obama evolved.

whatcat on March 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM

The Russians have Drago in their corner. We have the guy from the EPA in Ghostbusters. And our guy smokes too…

Oil Can on March 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Yeah that pretty much sums it up. ;(

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Didn’t Kerry and Heinz eat dinner with Mr and Mrs. Assad? Hey – and remember that sweel Vogue article on the super saavy Mrs. Assad?

djl130 on March 18, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Not so long ago…

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Things could get dangerous.

cozmo on March 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

True

Cornered snakes can lead to war and ‘war’.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

They’ll be back in two weeks, seems to be how it works these days in Obama’s America

Pegcity on March 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Benghazi
Snowden
Syria
obama’care’

…what pushed the snake into a corner

Putin is connected to two of them.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Apparently, Barack is going to start playing chess with Putin, but you have to ask if it’s really necessary to observe all the “forms of Kanly” ? Can you say “telegraphed” ?

J_Crater on March 18, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Syria has an embassy here? Who knew?

blue13326 on March 18, 2014 at 2:36 PM

That’ll teach ‘em!

myiq2xu on March 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

American domestic and foreign policies are run by scumhags, incl. obama. The results are crystal clear muddy.

Hillary has as much blood on her hands.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Obama evolved.

whatcat on March 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM

To be fair, Killary didn’t exactly have a coherent position concerning Syria. A muddled mess, bombing without Congressional approval, a vague stated desired outcome, and worthless promises of removing chemical weapons that were being used on civilians. One week Killary and the rat-eared one was lauding Assad, next week the rebels.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

I’ll close Gitmo the day I take office!

-Prezzy Hipbama

Meremortal on March 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Apparently, Barack is going to start playing chess with Putin, but you have to ask if it’s really necessary to observe all the “forms of Kanly” ? Can you say “telegraphed” ?

You scream and leap.

myiq2xu on March 18, 2014 at 2:38 PM

The United States will continue to assist those seeking change in Syria, to help end the slaughter, and to resolve the crisis through negotiations – for the benefit of the Syrian people.

Boy the BS from this administration just rolls off the tongue like butter from a hot knife, doesn’t it? HOW have they helped to end the slaughter? Have they even negotiated about anything since we fell for the old chemical weapons switcheroo?

January 20, 2017 can’t get here fast enough. What’s scary is the amount of damage this president can do between now and then.

scalleywag on March 18, 2014 at 2:38 PM

The evidence of

“Leading from Behind” and

“Forward.”

is in front of the world’s eyes.

All who bow, deserve the scrooming.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 2:39 PM

pivot

workingclass artist on March 18, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Tomb of Sulaiman Shah: Will Turkey now invade Syria?

…Turkey appears to have been directly involved in the conflict, cooperating with other international players such as the US, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, it seems, Turkey’s secretive National Intelligence Organization (MIT) continues to transport supplies, such as weapons and ammunition, to the Syrian opposition.

Please note that this is from Russia Today, but coming with the closing of the Syrian embassy in the US the timing is interesting.

Kaffa on March 18, 2014 at 2:40 PM

This seems like a broader message, and one for an audience not limited to Bashar al-Assad. The US may well be sending a not-so-subtle signal of intervention in Syria as a counter-threat to more action by Putin in Ukraine. It certainly seems to indicate the end of the Russo-American partnership on bringing that conflict to an end.

He’s playing with his marbles again. Step down Obama! You are in way over your head – time for you to do the right thing and go back to wherever the h3ll you came from.

Key West Reader on March 18, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The next step is for Obama to unfriend Assad on FaceBook.

DAT60A3 on March 18, 2014 at 2:42 PM

In addition, the UN investigators found that after 20 January the government ramped up its campaign of dropping barrel-bombs – explosive-filled cylinders or oil barrels – onto densely-populated residential districts of Aleppo, with devastating consequences.

Hey, Assad is to a reformer. He’s just in the early stages of urban renewal, where you have to get rid of the old buildings before you can put up new ones. Why some of the buildings are centuries old. Plus he’s being a good environmentalist and reducing the excessive carbon spewing population.

rbj on March 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Please note that this is from Russia Today, but coming with the closing of the Syrian embassy in the US the timing is interesting.

Kaffa on March 18, 2014 at 2:40 PM

You’re right in advising that PTV (Putin TV) isn’t exactly the most objective of sources. But Turkey should be careful if it doesn’t want Putin to suddenly discover another threat to ethnic Russians.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2014 at 2:47 PM

This is Obama being tough.

It’s easier when he’s safely behind Valerie Jarrett’s skirts.

You can trace his path there by the long yellow line across the White House carpet, running right up along the crease of his pants leg.

Putin is prolly really, really scared now!

Adjoran on March 18, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Gee, I guess we’ve decided that Syria doesn’t need to get rid of those bothersome chemical weapons. Or did Dear Leader already declare glorious victory?

NavyMustang on March 18, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Hey, Assad is to a reformer. He’s just in the early stages of urban renewal, where you have to get rid of the old buildings before you can put up new ones. Why some of the buildings are centuries old. Plus he’s being a good environmentalist and reducing the excessive carbon spewing population.

rbj on March 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Yeah, that’s it! Assad is just doing the yeoman work to start up a booming construction industry. Jobs for EVERYONE!

NavyMustang on March 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM

They have been hiding Osama Bin Laden in the embassy and found a new home for him…

albill on March 18, 2014 at 2:57 PM

cozmo on March 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Agreed. Obama will start WW III if he thinks it will help him in the midterms.

Kaffa on March 18, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Welcome to the party. I’ve been saying the same thing for a couple years.

Obama is not really sane. Sanctions on a handful of Russians and he makes a press conference out of it?

How many examples of his mental illness are required before everyone realizes this guy’s a nut case?

dogsoldier on March 18, 2014 at 2:58 PM

The problem is I’ve thought for a long time the this president is insane, but now he’s dealing with Putin, whom I ALSO think is insane. What could go wrong?

scalleywag on March 18, 2014 at 3:01 PM

The difference is between seeing the world as it is, and living in a “fantasy,” as the Washington Post remarked about Obama’s five years in charge of foreign policy

Delusions not fantasy.

dogsoldier on March 18, 2014 at 3:10 PM

That is why it sucks to be a small country in the world. Big countries use you as punching bags. Russia invades Crimea but Syria out of the blue gets it embassy shut down. When people are not happy with Iran they want to give weapons to rebels in Syria to prolong the war because it is viewed as bad for Iran.

People forget those countries. Have living breathing people in them, just like them. So I am sure that more sanctions on Syria is coming any day now, because we have to teach Russia a lesson. Lord have mercy.

coolrepublica on March 18, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Sounds like code for ” Muslim Brotherhood – it’s all yours” Thanks for the donations!

Obamatrix on March 18, 2014 at 3:54 PM

So if Putin keeps grabbing chunks of a neighboring country, we’ll get ourselves deeper into a quagmire halfway around the word that we really have no place being involved in and where there are no good guys to support? Sounds like Obama’s doing his Sheriff Bart impersonation with a gun to his own head. I don’t think Putin is going to fall for it like the people of Rock Ridge did.

jnelchef on March 18, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Childish.

hawkdriver on March 18, 2014 at 8:45 PM

People forget those countries. Have living breathing people in them, just like them. So I am sure that more sanctions on Syria is coming any day now, because we have to teach Russia a lesson. Lord have mercy.

coolrepublica on March 18, 2014 at 3:14 PM

You might want to read up on Syria before you comment again.

hawkdriver on March 18, 2014 at 8:47 PM

Why Obama thinks the mere closure of an embassy will prompt Assad to act differently is unclear. President George W. Bush had recalled his U.S. ambassador to Syria in 2005, after the regime was blamed for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. When Obama entered the White House, he lifted sanctions against Syria and appointed Robert Ford as ambassador — despite Syria’s support of terrorism, aid to al-Qaeda, and assistance with North Korea’s nuclear operations. Then-Senator John Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mistakenly believed Assad was a “moderate,” and Obama likely believed he could cozy up to Syria as a way to put pressure on Israel to give more in negotiations with the Palestinians. History has proven them wrong.

Colony14 on March 19, 2014 at 8:03 PM