January 25, 2012

Obama Says Syria Will Find “Forces of Change” Irreversible

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has “no doubt” Syria's government will soon find that the “forces of change can't be reversed.”
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Mr. Obama said that while it is up to the people of the Middle East to decide their own fate, the United States will oppose “violence and intimidation” and stand for the “rights and dignity of all human beings.”
“We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty. And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests.”
The address comes as U.N. diplomats say France, Britain and Germany are working with Arab nations on a new Security Council resolution outlining a transition from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
The Arab League, which crafted the plan, says its chief and Qatar's prime minister have asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a meeting to push for Security Council support.
Syria has rejected the plan. The proposal would require Mr. Assad to transfer power to a deputy and form a national unity government within two months to prepare for national elections under Arab and international supervision.
Syria agreed Tuesday to extend the Arab League's observer mission in the country for another month, as a number of Arab nations withdrew their monitors to protest the government's actions since the mission began in late December.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said Tuesday its 55 monitors are leaving the mission because of Syria's failure to honor pledges to stop violence against a 10-month anti-government uprising. Saudi Arabia was the first GCC member to announce a pullout from the monitoring team on Sunday.
A Syrian activist network, the Local Coordination Committees, said security forces killed at least 60 people Tuesday, mostly in the central city of Homs.
In Damascus Tuesday, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Syria's key military ally, Russia, would not allow foreign interference in Syrian affairs. Moscow has used its Security Council veto to block Western efforts to punish Syria for trying to crush the uprising against President Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.
Britain, France and the U.S. sharply criticized Russia Tuesday for supplying weapons to Syria, which they said were fueling Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown. Britain's U.N. ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said it is “glaringly obvious” that transferring weapons into a volatile situation is “irresponsible and will only fuel the bloodshed.” Washington's U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, said all countries should declare a moratorium on arms sales to Damascus.
The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syrian authorities say terrorists have killed about 2,000 security force members since the unrest began.

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