Last week, the UN, with the blessing of the US, mustered up a strongly-worded statement condemning Bashar Assad’s violent crackdown on unarmed dissidents in Syria, but still refused to demand Assad’s resignation. Barack Obama still has yet to call for Assad’s removal after five months of murderous Syrian response, despite demanding the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt after eight days of protests without the kind of brutal crackdown seen from Assad. Even the Saudis have had enough (via Jennifer Rubin):
Saudi Arabia has said it is recalling its ambassador from Damascus in protest against Syria’s deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.
A statement from King Abdullah said the violence was “unacceptable” and called for it to stop before it was too late.
It came hours after the Arab League issued its first official statement, strongly condemning the violence.
On Sunday, more than 80 people died as the army launched assaults in eastern and central Syria, activists said.
How about the Obama administration? According to the State Department’s response, they think that Saudi Arabia’s decision “clearly sends a message” to Assad’s government. And, of course, we won’t send the same message, as The Cable deduces:
The State Department welcomes the announcement by Saudi Arabia that it is recalling its ambassador from Syria, but the U.S. has no plans to do so. “This is a choice by any sovereign nation whether to recall its ambassador. It clearly sends a message to the government,” said Toner. “For our part, we’ve talked about this last week and continue to believe that Ambassador Ford is playing an important role on the ground, bearing witness to what’s going on in Syria.”
Ahhh, I see. Ford is a witness! I suppose the thousands of Syrians getting attacked won’t do in that role. As for Ford, he wants us all to know that what’s going on is, er, pretty bad, or something:
U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford condemned the Syrian military crackdown against a civilian uprising in the city of Hama, calling the violence there “grotesque” and “abhorrent.” As international condemnation grows, he said the United States would “try to ratchet up the pressure” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including through new sanctions.
“The violence that the Syrian government is inflicting on Syrian protesters, from our point of view, is grotesque. It’s abhorrent,” Ford told “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour in a U.S. exclusive. “So we are looking at additional unilateral measures, but also measures that we can work with partners to get the Syrian government to stop shooting protesters, to release political prisoners and to stop these arrest campaigns.”
It’s grotesque and abhorrent, but not enough to cut off diplomatic ties or to treat Assad, a clear antagonist towards the US and the West, with anything approaching the treatment we gave Mubarak, our nominal ally in the region. Instead of showing any consistency, we’re going to keep jollying along this supposed “reformer” and desperately look for others in the region with more muscle to get Assad to kindly, pretty please, stop massacring his own people. That must be what Obama means by “smart power,” huh?
It’s a sad day indeed when the Saudis are more concerned with human-rights violations than the United States, especially in a place like Syria. One might even call it “grotesque” and “abhorrent.”