Obama guarantees Assad fall

2012-03-07 10:04

Washington - President Barack Obama said it was only a matter of time before Syrian President Bashar Assad left office, but squarely opposed a call to launch US military action to force him out.

Obama said what was happening in Syria was "heartbreaking and outrageous", and witness accounts of the devastation after government troops bombarded the rebel stronghold of Baba Amr into submission have given attempts to reach a diplomatic solution renewed urgency.

"The atrocities we saw were beyond our imagination," said one former resident, speaking from a secret location.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and the joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan are due to visit Syria this week to see first hand the effects of a conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 7 500 civilians.

World powers met behind closed doors at the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss a US-drafted resolution urging an end to the crackdown on the revolt against Assad and unhindered humanitarian access.

But despite the chorus of outrage, Western leaders have ruled out a Libya-style military intervention in Syria, fearing it could trigger wider conflict in the Middle East.

Question of when, not if

The White House said Obama was committed to diplomatic efforts to end the violence, saying Washington wanted to isolate Assad, cut off his sources of revenue and encourage unity among his opponents.

"Ultimately this dictator will fall," Obama said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, adding that it was not a question of if, but when Assad would be forced out.

But he opposed a call by US Senator John McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, for the United States to lead an international effort to protect population centres in Syria with air strikes on Assad's forces.

"For us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake," he said.

Obama's comments came as Assad faced growing Western anger for preventing aid from entering the Baba Amr district of Homs, and over accusations of rights abuses, including television images said to show torture victims at a hospital in the city.

The Red Cross said it was still waiting for approval to distribute aid to Baba Amr but residents who had fled across the border to Lebanon told of the destruction.

2 000 police dead

"The smell of death was everywhere. We could smell the bodies buried under the rubble all the time," said Ahmad, who escaped to Lebanon. "We saw so much death that at the end the sight of a dismembered body ... stopped moving us."

Syrian state television aired footage of dozens of men, women and children returning on foot to Baba Amr on Tuesday, passing bullet-pocked and damaged buildings, days after the rebel fighters fled nearly a month of shelling.

It showed pictures of rocket-propelled grenades and guns laid out on the street. Assad's government says the uprising is a campaign by foreign-backed Islamist insurgents that has killed 2 000 police and soldiers since the protests erupted in March.

Secretly shot video footage aired on Monday by a British television station showed what it said were Syrian patients tortured by medical staff at a state-run hospital in Homs.

The video, which Channel 4 said it could not independently verify, showed wounded, blindfolded men chained to beds. Most foreign journalists are banned from Syria.

The UN torture investigator, Juan Mendez, said the Channel 4 clips appeared to support increasingly grave allegations pointing to crimes against humanity.

Call for action

In Homs, activists said security forces were carrying out raids in a district next to Baba Amr on Tuesday, and reported gunfire and explosions in another area.

In Herak, in Deraa province where the revolt erupted nearly a year ago, residents said armoured vehicles and tanks had massed on the western fringe of the city and in parts of the centre. There were raids reported in the city of Deir al-Zor.

Calls for action to protect civilians have grown louder as the Alawite-led security apparatus has cracked down on the uprising that has its roots in the majority Sunni community and which has raised the prospect of a civil war.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a former ally of Assad, said the violence in Syria had "started to resemble an inhumane savagery in recent days", calling for a humanitarian corridor to be established in Syria to help civilians.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Morocco held what US Ambassador Susan Rice called "preliminary discussions ... about whether there is any possibility of reaching agreement" on a US-drafted resolution.

The draft, obtained by Reuters, demands "unhindered humanitarian access" and "condemns the continued widespread, systematic, and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to such violations".

No details

Several Western diplomats expressed disappointment with the draft, saying it fell far short of an appropriately stinging condemnation of the Syrian government.

It remains unclear whether the draft, which follows two proposed condemnations of Damascus that Russia and China vetoed, has any chance of success in the 15-nation council, which has been deadlocked over Syria for almost a year.

A Chinese diplomat arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to outline Beijing's peace plan.

UN ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, along with the sole Arab state on the 15-nation Security Council, Morocco, avoided detailed comments when they left a 1-1/2 hour meeting on the draft on Tuesday.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong told reporters: "We're still working on that."

  • Fidel - 2012-03-07 10:10

    US foreign policy is morally bankrupt, it has cost millions of dear lives. Why is it just taken for granted that Obama has a right to decide, or at least heavily influence, who can and can't rule in Syria? What business is it of his? And why are his clearly hollow and self-serving words about his support for democracy and human rights automatically granted legitimacy, rather than sneered at, mocked and derided like they are for other leaders (mainly Official Enemies) who engage in, support or facilitate mass killing and repression in this region and beyond? This is a clear example of a dysfunctional moral compass.

      Fred - 2012-03-07 16:01

      The usual rubbish from you Fidel. Sneer, mock, urinate, jump up and down, do all you like. The fact remains the freer world will not bend on higher principles of universal human rights that have been so lacking in the Middle East, brutalized and retarded by centuries of dictatorships. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen. Bahrain. Syria. More than 100 million Muslims of the region are saying no more. And you undermine their efforts. What of the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of deaths and mailings caused by your heroes Al-Quaida and the Taliban with their car bombs and suicide attacks in public places? You hold the freer world responsible for this, instead of being honest and true. Your dishonesty is obvious.

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 16:05

      The Middle East is not your business! No one has elected your hypocritical leaders to be the guardians of the world, over 5 billion people. Geddit!

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 16:53

      Another tantrum of this RACIST !!!

      Fred - 2012-03-10 18:52

      It's everyone's business Fidel. Whether you like it or not.

  • Kobus - 2012-03-07 10:18

    Good for you America! Its because of despots on their admirors like the one that already posted, that this world is in the state its in.

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 10:30

      You think America don't admire despots, more fool you if you actually believe such nonsense. It cannot get enough of them. It manufactures them wherever it goes. It is setting up a tyranny in Afghanistan and it is angry that Iraq is not tyrannical enough to over ride the people's hatred of the occupying army and request the US army to stay there. It supports the tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, and it has just saved the Bahrain tyranny from the wrath of its victims: the people of Bahrain. It sponsors tyranny in Yemen and it pays the Egyptian Army not to surrender to the people. I haven't even included the STAN countries (Kazakhstan, etc). Amazing how otherwise "intelligent" people fall for MSM propaganda and accept what they┬┤re told instead of looking at facts for themselves. "Watch what they do, not what they say."

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 12:30

      @Muedes He's probably having half a dozen bitter lemons surgically removed from his mouth as we speak. @Frank Definately not from FOX news, BBC, CNN, AL Jazeera and the likes. You need to read outside the Main Stream Media (MSM). Start with how your country was usurped by private foreign Bankers in 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank was formed.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-03-07 15:08

      Fidel thats absolute non-sense , Federal reserve conspiracy is simply not true . The Taliban in Afganistan are a cultural destroying, terror supporting regime birthed from imperial communism and epitomy of tyranny . As for the main stream media , com'on? If anything they have a far higher degree of oversight , regulation and professional integrity than internet cowboy journalism . Very much in the same way main stream medicine has a far higher degree of success than internet self help medical websites . The extrodinary claims that 'MSM' are all in cahoots requires extrodinary evidence which is simply not there .

      Fred - 2012-03-07 16:08

      Gollum (Muedes) and Fidel are out in (weak) force. The US manufactured dictatorships? Yeah right. More irresponsibility and weak blame. Actually, the Middle East has only had dictators. Until now. Gollum is deeply entrenched in his dark, totally delusional and untrue conspiracy theories.

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 17:37

      @Muedes, WOW !!! I am stunned, I never knew there are soo many different US media companies. Who owns them is not important, but what is amazing, is that they have such different outlook , not only on US politics, but also on International politics!!!! The Russian and Chinese populations must be soo envious, they just have to do with ONE (STATE ) media outlet, where their masters will tell them "what" to believe

      Fred - 2012-03-10 18:53

      All of it Muedes/Gollum/Datbrotherfromthestates

  • Fidel - 2012-03-07 10:37

    Mayday mayday heavy censorship. I thought this was a comment area but it turns out to be an agreement-only area. Please show me where the dissent corner is so I can go stand there and not get in the way of the circle-jerk in progress. I will repost my comment, stupid moderator!

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 12:33

      But Frank, you haven't been able to counter them or show them as false. Just because your are wrong and brainwashed doesn't mean that I am wrong, it means that you are wrong and brainwashed.

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 12:39

      Fidel, don't be so pathetically childish, you probably in the heat of the moment, got a bit over exited , wanting to show the masses your half baked pseudo intellectual BS, that you deleted your own comment !!!!!

      Fred - 2012-03-07 16:09

      There isn't anything useful in what you say anyway Fidel. It's old, stale pseudo-victimhood delusion that is thankfully being thrown out by the people of the Middle East.

  • suleman.dinath - 2012-03-07 10:46

    as long muslims are dying your happy aint ya??? surely the hell fire awaites you unless you turn to the one who has created you!!!

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 12:45

      Muedes, "US presidents merely are representatives for the country". Now, at long last, you get it !!!!!! And THATS, the difference between the leaders of the West and those DICTATORS, TYRANTS AND MURDERERS you support.

      Fidel - 2012-03-07 14:39

      It's not only weapons, the reconstruction contracts for flattened countries go to the same corporations. Security services (mercenaries) like Xe/Black Water are also making a killing. Corporations that supply the US army with consumables are also involved in the feeding frenzy, feeding on the lives of Muslims. War is a Racket!

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 15:06

      Fidel, "WAR IS A RACKET !!" Yea, go and ask the Russians and Iranians, about that one !!

      Anthony - 2012-03-07 15:18

      @Muedes, Your anti Western thoughts have blinded you from reality. Sure, there are American companies that benefit from wars, but that is far less undesirable than that companies belonging to the state, like in Russia and Iran, are the direct beneficiaries of this trade!!!!! And you fool yourself, to overstate the influence American companies have over their government. The American political system is far from perfect, BUT TEN THOUSAND TIMES BETTER, than the DICTATORSHIPS, you support !!!!!

      Fred - 2012-03-07 16:13

      Another person living in darkness and delusion. What about the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent Muslim civilians who have been killed by car bombs and suicide attacks intentionally place in Muslim public places by the murderers in your midst? Ever thought this might be wrong? Wake up. You're making a fool of yourself with your blind ignorance.

      nowicki1 - 2012-03-08 19:47

      What about the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent Muslim civilians who have been killed by car bombs and suicide attacks intentionally place in Muslim public places by the murderers in your midst? Ever thought this might be wrong? - Haha Fred you manage to throw this into just about every comment you post along with the "single greatest genocide attempt in history" - You are tragically dumb. Those bombings are the direct result of the occupation, ever thought of THAT?!?

      Fred - 2012-03-10 18:57

      "The direct result of the occupation". Who is choosing to place the bombs and carry out the attacks in public places? Are they intentionally killing and maiming civilians by the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS? Why are you focusing on the relatively small but tragic Nato errors, when it goes to such great lengths to avoid harm to civilians and is a force for good in our world?

  • xozamandi - 2012-03-07 11:03

    come 'on brother leader, why can't you gather your NATO forces and go there in the name of the so called humanitarian crisis, why can't you do the same thing you did to brother late leader Muamar Ghaddafi, simply, there's no oil and there' no threat to your economy...

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-03-07 14:38

      Russia and China didn't veto against action, nothing to do with oil. Canada as well as the US has many folds more oil than them.

  • Anthony - 2012-03-07 15:24

    ""Mayday mayday heavy censorship. I thought this was a comment area but it turns out to be an agreement-only area."" Fidel, throwing a little tantrum ?? No, this is not Russia, Iran nor Syria, Here you can abuse your freedom as much as you like, and can spew your hatred and racism, till the cows come home!!!!!!!!!!

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