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‘It’s not peace but regime change the US is after in Syria’

Published time: August 19, 2011 11:09
Edited time: August 19, 2011 16:00

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows President Bashar al-Assad (AFP Photo / HO / SANA)

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Barack Obama’s call for the resignation of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad indicates that the US’s true aim in Syria is not peace but regime change, believes journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark.

­The American president’s initiative was backed by major European countries, with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom issuing a joint statement on the issue.  

The demand that Assad give up power came despite Assad assuring the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that all military operations against anti-government protesters had been halted.    

Meanwhile, Russia has said it does not share the Western stance on this issue, believing Assad should be given time to implement promised reforms.

"We don't share the view of the US and European Union regarding President Bashar al-Assad and we’ll continue to pursue our principled line on Syria," Aleksandr Lukashevish, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told Interfax news agency.

Journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark explained that the demands for Assad to stand down have been motivated by opposition to the Syrian leader’s friendly relations with Iran and Russia, and certainly not by any concerns about the human rights of the Syrian people.       

“What the US and their allies really want is regime change in Syria and they are not really genuinely interested in ending the terrible situation that’s happening there and having dialogue between both sides. That’s the reason why it’s happening today because ten days ago Assad said that he’s going to introduce the multiparty system in Syria, today he said that the operations against the opposition have ended. And what do we get? Instead of the US saying: ‘Well done. Good move’, we get these calls for him to step down,” he said.

Clark is also skeptical that the International Criminal Court will not be very helpful in the Syrian situation. The big problem with international justice, he says, is that it is very biased and there is a lack of a “fair, impartial system.”

And political theorist Benjamin Barber says that the West should, instead of imposing toothless sanctions, launch negotiations with the Syrian government to come up with an alternative to Assad's rule.

“The West has been deeply inconsistent in its approach to these uprisings,” Barber told RT. “In Libya, where it was an armed insurrection against Gaddafi and it was really a civil war, we have been – the West has been – extremely active using NATO forces as the air arm of the insurgents. In Syria, where innocent people have been murdered day after day and week after week, no action at all has been taken because nobody can imagine what an alternative to Assad would look like.”

“I myself believe these new sanctions will do very little to stop the regime,” he continued. “The trouble is, very little can be done because we have offered no way out. We can’t do an all-or-nothing policy, and that’s what we’ve done. Nobody has said to Assad what the alternative to him continuing to rule would be.”

“Clearly, unless there is an alternative other than the total demise of the individual and his family, these guys are going to fight on despite sanctions and so on,”

he said.

“It’s also clear that the West is not really willing to put its mouth and muscle and money where its rhetoric is. And until it is willing to do that, I think it will find there is very little change in these countries.”

­Joel Rubin, director of the Ploughshares Fund think tank, says the sanctions will neither remove President Bashar Assad nor end the violence in Syria, but they do signal that the regime is no longer respected by the international community. 

“The US does not want to act alone,” he said. “Sanctions cannot be effective if they are purely unilateral. So what we’ve seen is a follow-up set of sanctions announced by many countries across the globe. The UN process is underway, and it really gives strength and teeth to the sanctions.”

“Sanctions are just one tool,”

Rubin added.

“They really cannot make or break the final decision; they are a long-term strategy in many respects. The strategy, though, is one of ramping up the pressure, looking for ways to isolate Assad. The hope, of course, is that sanctions and political pressure will make those inside the regime look at Assad as a liability. I do not believe, however, that that is a clear endgame considering that the closest members of his ruling clique are from within his tribe, within his family. They are certainly not going to throw him out just because of outside sanctions.”