By Steven Lee Myers

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a statement on Thursday about sanctions against Syria.

The United States and several of its major allies on Thursday called on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to give up power. The carefully choreographed announcements came after months of popular protests and increasingly deadly reprisals that the United Nations commissioner for human rights said amounted to crimes against humanity by the Syrian authorities.

President Obama, who had faced criticism for not acting more assertively, ordered the freezing of all Syrian assets within American jurisdiction, banned imports of Syrian oil and barred American citizens from having any business dealings with the Syrian government, which the administration once courted in the hopes of improving relations.

He called on other countries to impose their own sanctions, focusing on Syria’s oil and gas industry, and European leaders suggested those were now under consideration.

The ultimate effect of the chorus of international condemnation and sanctions remains to be seen, and the United States and its allies risked highlighting their relative powerlessness to alter events inside Syria. But their decision to turn up the pressure substantially could have a profound psychological effect on a government that has survived for decades by retrenching during crises and manipulating relations in the region — from Turkey to Israel, Lebanon to Iran — to keep itself relevant, if not admired.

Diplomatically, at least, Syria now appears more isolated than at any other time in the 41 years that Mr. Assad or his father, Hafez, has led the country. Administration officials and diplomats said they hoped that fact alone could break open fissures among the political and business elite cosseted under Mr. Assad’s rule. Until now they appear to have bet on the government’s somehow surviving. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on August 18, 2011 (a version of this article appeared in print on August 19, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Leads Allies In Call For Chief Of Syria To Quit).


Said August 31, 2011 - 5:41 pm

What else is Mr. Bashar waiting for? It is too late to react. It is time to resign…

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