State of Union is Old News, New Syria Policy is Needed

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The Syrian American Council (SAC) expresses disappointment with President Obama’s Syria policy as articulated in his State of the Union address.

Obama’s remarks on Syria in the State of the Union address represented a continuation of a policy that the Syrian people see as merely rhetorical support for freedom and democracy.

The Syrian American Council (SAC) today expressed disappointment with President Obama’s Syria policy as articulated in his State of the Union address. The State of the Union address is an opportunity for the introduction of new, fresh policy ideas to address important issues, but on Syria, the president repeated the same insufficient policies that have not helped resolve the crisis.

During his speech, President Obama affirmed that America stands with citizens of the Middle East who are seeking their universal rights and that America supports stable transitions to democracy. Although the president said that his administration will keep the pressure on the Syria’s Assad regime and “support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian,” he did not provide any substantial new policy guidelines to help put an end to the regime’s violence and bring about change in Syria. While the world waits for new American policies to help bring an end to the Assad regime, 150 to 200 Syrians are killed every day.

SEE: The 2013 State of the Union [Video]

“Obama’s remarks on Syria in the State of the Union address represented a continuation of a policy that the Syrian people see as merely rhetorical support for freedom and democracy. We are hopeful that Secretary of State Kerry’s remarks regarding his new proposals to convince Assad to leave power may indicate that the U.S. government is looking into new, more effective policies,” said SAC Director of Government Relations Mohammed A. Ghanem.

SEE: Kerry Drafting New Proposals to Persuade Syria’s Assad to Step Down - Washington Post

The Syrian American Council calls upon the Obama administration to take the necessary steps to help the Syrian people end the Assad regime and assist with a stable transition to a democracy. The U.S., in cooperation with the Syrian Coalition and the international community, should put pressure on Assad in order to force his exit.

First, the U.S. should work closely with regional partners to significantly increase the supply of key defensive arms – particularly anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons – to carefully vetted elements of the Free Syrian Army through the Supreme Military Council. This will exert military pressure on Assad and protect civilians in liberated areas from air strikes. Second, the U.S. should support the governance efforts of the Syrian Coalition so that it can become a fully-functioning government on the ground in liberated Syria. This will expand political pressure on Assad, as the regime will no longer be able to claim to govern much of the country. Third, the U.S should fund efforts by local Civilian Administrative Councils operating in liberated areas so that they can provide basic services to the people, create democratic institutions, and enhance the rule of law. This will empower civilians and help ensure a peaceful transition.

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Rashad Al-Dabbagh
Syrian American Council
657-777-3191
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