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Foreign Policy Experts Urge President Obama to Take Immediate Action in Syria


17th February 2012 - FPI/FDD

Foreign Policy Experts Urge President Obama to Take Immediate Action in Syria

Washington, D.C.—Fifty-six foreign policy experts and former U.S. government officials signed an open letter today urging President Obama to act more assertively to stop the Assad regime’s continuing atrocities against Syrian civilians.  Organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the letter calls on the President to immediately establish safe zones and no-go zones within Syrian territory; establish contacts with the Free Syrian Army and provide a full range of direct assistance including self-defense aid; improve U.S. coordination with political opposition groups and provide them with secure communication technologies; and work with Congress to improve crippling U.S. and multilateral sanctions on the Syrian government.

For eleven months, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of the Assad regime.  The letter urges that, “Given the United Nations Security Council’s recent failure to act…the United States cannot continue to defer its strategic and moral responsibilities in Syria to regional actors such as the Arab League, or to wait for consent from the Assad regime’s protectors, Russia and China.”

The letter calls on the President to lead on Syria. “Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East.  Given American interests in the Middle East, as well as the implications for those seeking freedom in other repressive societies, it is imperative that the United States and its allies not remove any option from consideration, including military intervention.'"

The full text of the letter and signatories can be found below as well as on the Foreign Policy Initiative website.


The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

For eleven months now, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of their government as they seek to topple the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad.  As the recent events in the city of Homs—in which hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a matter of days—have shown, Assad will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power.

Given the United Nations Security Council’s recent failure to act, we believe that the United States cannot continue to defer its strategic and moral responsibilities in Syria to regional actors such as the Arab League, or to wait for consent from the Assad regime’s protectors, Russia and China.  We therefore urge you to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria.

Syria’s future is not purely a humanitarian concern.  The Assad regime poses a grave threat to national security interests of the United States.  The Syrian government, which has been on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list since 1979, maintains a strategic partnership with the terror-sponsoring government of Iran, as well as with Hamas and Hezbollah.  For years, it facilitated the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq who killed American troops.  For years, it secretly pursued a nuclear program with North Korea’s assistance.  And for decades, it has closely cooperated with Iran and other agents of violence and instability to menace America’s allies and partners throughout the Middle East.

Equally troubling, foreign powers have already directly intervened in Syria—in support of the Assad regime.  Russia is providing arms and supplies to the Syrian government.  Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah are reportedly operating in Syria, and assisting Syrian military forces and pro-regime militias in efforts to crush the Syrian opposition.  In turn, the lack of resolve and action by the responsible members of the international community is only further emboldening the Assad regime.

Given these facts, we urge you to take the following immediate actions to hasten an end to the Assad regime and the humanitarian catastrophe that it is inflicting on the Syrian people:

  • Immediately establish safe zones within Syrian territory, as well as no-go zones for the Assad regime’s military and security forces, around Homs, Idlib, and other threatened areas, in order to protect Syrian civilians.  To the extent possible, the United States should work with like-minded countries like Turkey and members of the Arab League in these efforts.
  • Establish contacts with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and, in conjunction with allies in the Middle East and Europe, provide a full range of direct assistance, including self-defense aid to the FSA.
  • Improve U.S. coordination with political opposition groups and provide them with secure communications technologies and other assistance that will help to improve their ability to prepare for a post-Assad Syria.
  • Work with Congress to impose crippling U.S. and multilateral sanctions on the Syrian government, especially on Syria’s energy, banking, and shipping sectors.

Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East.  Given American interests in the Middle East, as well as the implications for those seeking freedom in other repressive societies, it is imperative that the United States and its allies not remove any option from consideration, including military intervention.

The Syrian people are asking for international assistance.  It is apparent that American leadership is required to ensure the quickest end to the Assad regime’s brutal reign, and to clearly show the Syrian people that, as you said on February 4, 2012, the people of the free world stand with them as they seek to realize their aspirations.

Sincerely,

Khairi Abaza Ammar Abdulhamid Hussain Abdul-Hussain Tony Badran
Paul Berman Max Boot Ellen Bork L. Paul Bremer
Matthew R. J. Brodsky Elizabeth Cheney Seth Cropsey Toby Dershowitz
James Denton Mark Dubowitz Nicholas Eberstadt Eric S. Edelman
Jamie M. Fly Reuel Marc Gerecht Abe Greenwald John P. Hannah
William Inboden Bruce Pitcairn Jackson Ash Jain Kenneth Jensen
Allison Johnson Sirwan Kajjo Lawrence F. Kaplan Irina Krasovskaya
William Kristol Michael Ledeen Tod Lindberg Herbert I. London
Clifford D. May Ann Marlowe Robert C. McFarlane Joshua Muravchik
Martin Peretz Danielle Pletka John Podhoretz Stephen Rademaker
Karl Rove Jonathan Schanzer Randy Scheunemann Gary J. Schmitt
Daniel S. Senor Lee Smith Henry D. Sokolski Daniel Twining
Peter Wehner Kenneth R. Weinstein Leon Wieseltier R. James Woolsey
Khawla Yusuf Dov S. Zakheim Robert Zarate Radwan Ziadeh

About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism. Founded shortly after the attacks of 9/11, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications, and investigative journalism in support of its mission. For more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org.

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About the Foreign Policy Initiative

FPI is a non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. FPI seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America's global economic competitiveness. The organization was founded in 2009 and is led by Executive Director Jamie Fly. FPI’s Board of Directors consists of Eric Edelman, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, and Dan Senor. Visit our website at www.foreignpolicyi.org for more information.

Tags

arab-spring, assad, obama, syria