Clinton suggests Assad legitimacy "nearly run out"

WASHINGTON Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:15pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a speech at the launch of a Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education at UNESCO headquarters in Paris May 26, 2011. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a speech at the launch of a Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education at UNESCO headquarters in Paris May 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Thibault Camus/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy is all but gone and the world needs more unity on how to deal with his crackdown against anti-government protests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.

Syrian forces killed at least 13 civilians in the central town of Rastan on Thursday, activists said, in the latest military assault to try to crush a revolt against Assad's 11-year rule.

While noting the United States and its European allies have imposed sanctions on Syria since the uprising three months ago, Clinton hinted at the reluctance of other U.N. Security Council members, notably China and Russia, to take action.

"Right now, the attitude of the international community is not as united as we are seeking to make it. We do not yet have the agreement by some of the other members of the Security Council," Clinton said in an allusion to China and Russia.

Russia and China have so far objected to a European-proposed draft Security Council resolution that would condemn Syria for its crackdown. China warned on Tuesday that such a resolution could harm stability in Syria.

"Those who we are seeking to bring to our view of the situation I think will have to make their own judgment, but we think they will be better off on the right side of history," she added.

"The international community has to continue to make its strongest possible case and call for specific actions like -- not just an announcement of an amnesty -- but a release of political prisoners, the end to unjust detentions, allow human rights monitors into the country," she said.

Clinton suggested U.S. patience with Assad is exhausted but stopped short of explicitly calling for him to step down.

"The legitimacy that is necessary for anyone to expect change to occur under this current government is, if not gone, nearly run out," Clinton told reporters at a news conference.

"If he's not going to lead the reform, he needs to get out of the way," she said. "Where he goes, that's up to him."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Andrew Quinn, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Comments (3)
jacktar7 wrote:
I listened to an interview given by Madam Secretary on the treatment of the 13 year old young man by the Government of Mr Assad. The way she stumbled around trying to find a descriptive adjective defining his physical treatment that did not begin with “T” was EMBARRASSING.
The Obama administration has made a non-declarative suggestion that maybe his patience has run out or could possibly in the future maybe exhaust itself or not?!. If you are not, I am confused enough for everyone except maybe, the Obama State Department no hope there.
Foggy Bottom more confused than ever, Run Forrest Run!!!!
Is anyone surprised that two authoritarian governments would be against such a move? That would be self condemning and I really do not see that happening.

Jun 02, 2011 1:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Geok wrote:
People are defined by their deeds instead of words.
The ‘Right side of history’ for Hillary Clinton means tolerating allied despots in Yemen and Bahrain killing their people, while fighting an unauthorized war in Libya and planning on another in Syria.
Things like that trash the reputation of America, and more importantly, Democracy.

Jun 02, 2011 2:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jnemesh wrote:
Harm STABILITY in Syria???? Come on, China! There is no stability in Syria! When will the US and EU wake the hell up and realize that the interests of China and Russia are NOT the interests of everyone else? We keep operating under the assumption that China and Russia are our friends, and they most certainly are plotting our downfall! Every time we need to get the UN in gear against a petty dictator (Iran and Syria especially) we are blocked by these two nations who ENJOY the difficulties they inflict on the US and Europe! Mark my words, before this century is out, we WILL go to war with China…so quit pandering to these jerks!

Jun 02, 2011 6:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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