Two weeks ago, however, the mood inside the administration changed in response to Assad’s brutal crackdown and the realization that he was not listening to pro-reform voices from inside or outside Syria. After a series of deliberations, culminating in a Deputies Committee meeting at the National Security Council last week, a new policy course was set. In the coming days, expect a new executive order on Syria, a draft presidential statement at the U.N. Security Council, new designations of Syrian officials as targets of sanctions, and a firmer tone on the violence that will include references to Iran’s unhelpful influence on Syria’s crackdown.

The new sanctions will not target Assad directly and there will be no call for him to go.

“The days of just making statements are over and we are at a turning point,” said Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “What that turning point leads to we don’t know yet.”…

Multiple administration officials told The Cable that the administration had simply concluded, incorrectly, that the Syrian crisis would never grow this serious.