August 18, 2011 / 10:20 PM / in 6 years

FACTBOX-World alarmed at violence in Syria

(Adds analyst comments, Italy)

Aug 18 (Reuters) - Criticism is growing around the world of the Syrian government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protestors.

Here are recent comments from global powers and analysts.

* UNITED STATES: President Barack Obama on Thursday for the first time called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down after the crackdown by Syrian forces on demonstrations against his family’s 41-year reign. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

-- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity, protects their rights and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is standing in their way.”

* BRITAIN, FRANCE AND GERMANY: “We call on him to draw the consequences of the total rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to leave power, for the greater interest of Syria and the unity of his people,” the leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement on Thursday.

* UNITED NATIONS: In a telephone call with Assad on Aug. 17, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined a chorus of condemnation. “The Secretary-General emphasised that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately,” a U.N. statement said. “President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped.”

-- Separately, U.N. investigators said on Thursday Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protesters might be grounds for prosecutions for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC). “The mission found a pattern of human rights violations that constitutes widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, which may amount to crimes against humanity,” their report said.

* SAUDI ARABIA: King Abdullah said on Aug. 7 that Syria’s military crackdown had “nothing to do with religion, or values, or ethics.” Abdullah said: “Syria should think wisely before it’s too late and issue and enact reforms. Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss.” He also recalled his ambassador from Syria.

* TURKEY: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked Assad to halt military operations or face unspecified consequences. “This is our final word to the Syrian authorities, our first expectation is that these operations stop immediately and unconditionally,” Davutoglu said.

* RUSSIA: President Dmitry Medvedev made an appeal to Assad on Aug. 4. “He needs to urgently carry out reforms, reconcile with the opposition, restore peace and set up a modern state,” Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media. “If he fails to do this, he will face a sad fate.”

* ITALY: Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he fully supported Ashton’s statements. “Due to the complete convergence of our positions, the foreign minister feels there is nothing to add to the firm stance taken by the European Union,” the ministry said in a statement.

* SWEDEN: Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Reuters: “We are now trying to increase the pressure. We are now saying that President Assad has to step aside. He has exhausted his legitimacy and his credibility in that the repression and the violence have continued.”

Analyst comments:


“It will at least send a signal to the opposition that the West is not going to save him in the face of their opposition.”

“I think it will rattle the regime, they will feel very isolated. It could backfire in the sense that it’s not going to moderate the behaviour of the regime, quite the contrary .... The distinct possibility now is that he will become more defiant.”


”The previous messages from the West to Bashar al-Assad were ambiguous, confused, unclear and basically calling on him to hang in there and do what it takes to stay in power. The West was afraid there would be civil war, afraid there would not be an alternative. The messages that even the opposition in Syria were getting was that the West would rather have Bashar al-Assad reform and stay in power than leave. That gave him carte blanche, a licence to kill.

“And for a long time it looked like that, because they just repeated the condemnations, and they were very hollow. They kept telling him to reform.”

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Maria Golovnina

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