With the opposition coalition gradually gaining ground in Syria and now being formally recognised by the United States, the White House has said the President Bashar al-Assad must go.

“We certainly agree that Assad will not be a part of Syria’s future. We have noted, as the media has, the progress that the opposition has been making. We still believe that for the sake of the Syrian people, Assad ought to leave now,” the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.

Assad ought to remove himself from power now because it is terrible what damage he has inflicted on the Syrian people, the lives that have been lost because of his brutality, he asserted.

Carney said the United States would consult with its allies and others and evaluate the situation regularly.

“But we believe that providing continuous support to the Syrian people as well as non-lethal support to the opposition is the right approach,” he said.

“We’ve been very engaged in assisting the opposition unify itself. We recognised the Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and we will continue to work with our partners to isolate Assad and to help bring about the day when the Syrian people can decide for themselves on a better future for their country,” Carney said.

Explicitly condemning the use of missiles, Carney said it is just another demonstration of the “utter depravity” of the Assad regime and the lengths to which he will go to retain power.

“The assault on his own people has been heinous. It has been proved that he’s a tyrant and that he has no place in Syria’s history,” he said.

The State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, commended the Russian Government for “finally waking” and acknowledging that the regime’s days are numbered.

“I think the question now is, will the Russian Government join those of us in the international community who are working with the opposition to try to have a smooth democratic transition here to take the blueprint that we all agreed on in Geneva and form a transitional Government and have a transition that is as smooth, as democratic, as protective of the patrimony of the Syrian people, if you will, as possible?” she said.

“Our concern is that if we do not all use our influence with those in Syria, we will have a further ripping of the fabric of the country, we will have further destruction to important infrastructure, important communities. We will have more tension between communities, which is just going to make it harder to rebuild Syria in a democratic, unified, peaceful, stable direction later,” Nuland said.

The United States, she said, believes that existing Russian military contracts with the Assad regime should not be fulfilled.

“We remain concerned about economic support, other kinds of support. We’d like to see the Russian Federation join our model, the European Union’s model, the Arab League’s model of increasingly cutting off economic ties as well with the regime that would have a material impact on the ground,” she said.

(This article was published on December 14, 2012)
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