Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Addresses Friends of Syria Meeting

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 24, 2012

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, on February 24, 2012. Secretary Clinton said, "I want to thank Tunisia for hosting this meeting today and I salute the Arab League for its leadership throughout this crisis. I want to particularly applaud the selection of Kofi Annan as a special envoy for both the UN and the Arab League. He will seek to advance the consensus reflected in the Arab League transition plan and the UN General Assembly's resolution, and I look forward to working with him.""Now, we are all here because the Assad regime's escalating violence in Syria is an affront to the international community, a threat to regional security, and a grave violation of universal human rights.

"The Assad regime has ignored every warning, squandered every opportunity, and broken every agreement.

"Faced with determined protesters demanding their rights and their dignity, the regime is creating an appalling humanitarian disaster. Tanks, mortars and heavy artillery continue to target civilians in residential areas, including women and children. Security forces have cut off electricity and communications, sabotaged water supplies, invaded hospitals, and forced thousands of Syrians to flee their homes. The UN has found crimes against humanity. And now there are reports of troops massing for even more deadly assaults.

"Here in Tunis, the international community is speaking with one voice, as we did in the UN General Assembly last week that the Assad regime's brutal assault must stop and a democratic transition must begin. The people of Syria are looking to us in their hour of need. We cannot let them down. Let's begin by reaffirming the core principles we've agreed on today:

"We strongly echo the Arab League's demand that the Syrian Government immediately halt all attacks against civilians; guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations; release all arbitrarily detained citizens; return its military and security forces to their barracks; and allow full and unhindered access for monitors, humanitarian workers, and journalists.

"We call for a negotiated political solution to this crisis and an inclusive democratic transition to address the legitimate aspirations of Syria's people in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation, and extremism.

"And we are firmly committed to the sovereignty, independence, national unity, and territorial integrity of Syria.

"In support of these principles, this group should take concrete action along three lines: provide emergency humanitarian relief, ratchet up pressure on the regime, and prepare for a democratic transition.

"First, humanitarian relief. Conditions in Syria are dire and getting worse. Emergency assistance is desperately needed, but the regime is doing everything it can to prevent aid from reaching those who need it. It is going after aid workers, doctors, and journalists reporting on the suffering.

"We cannot wait for this crisis to become an even greater catastrophe. Today I am announcing that the United States is providing $10 million to quickly scale up humanitarian efforts, including support for refugees. These funds will help support makeshift medical facilities, train emergency medical staff, and get clean water, food, blankets, heaters, and hygiene kits to Syrian civilians in need. This is not the end. The United States will provide more humanitarian support in coming days.

"Trusted humanitarian organizations have prepositioned humanitarian supplies at hubs in the region and they are already on the ground poised to distribute this aid if safe access can be arranged. To that end, we fully support the efforts of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator to secure immediate and safe access for humanitarian workers and supplies.

"If the Assad regime refuses to allow this life-saving aid to reach civilians, it will have even more blood on its hands. So too will those nations that continue to protect and arm the regime. We call on those states that are supplying weapons to kill civilians to halt immediately.

"And that brings us to our second line of action: increasing the pressure on the Assad regime, deepening its isolation, and sending a clear message: You will pay a heavy cost for ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people.

"We all need to look hard at what more we can do. It's time for everyone here to place travel bans on senior members of the regime " as the Arab League has done -- freeze their assets, boycott Syrian oil, suspend new investments, and consider closing embassies and consulates. For nations that have already imposed sanctions, we must vigorously enforce them.

"There should be no mistaking our resolve: These crimes against the Syrian people must stop and there must be accountability for senior figures of the regime.

"Nor should there be any doubt that the Assad's rule is unsustainable. As we heard directly today, citizens inside and outside Syria have already begun planning for a democratic transition, from the leaders of the Syrian National Council to the grassroots local councils across the country who are organizing under the most dangerous and difficult circumstances. Supporting this process should be our third line of action.

"Assad is tearing the fabric of Syrian society and seeking to pit community against community. To repair that damage and build a sustainable democracy, all Syrians will have to work together -- Alawis and Christians, Sunnis and Druze, Arabs and Kurds -- to ensure that the new Syria is governed by the rule of law and respects and protects the universal rights of every citizen, regardless of ethnicity, sect, or gender.

"We view the Syrian National Council as a leading legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change and as an effective representative for the Syrian people with governments and international organization.

"As we heard today, the SNC is articulating a plan for the future, starting with an effective transition. In the coming days and weeks, we urge the full range of opposition groups and individuals in Syria, including representatives of all ethnic and religious minorities, to come together around that common vision.

"Only a genuine democratic transition will solve this crisis. As the Arab League has said, the goal should be the formation of a national unity government followed by transparent and free elections under Arab and international supervision. Assad's departure must be part of this.

"Now I recognize that some inside Syria, especially members of its minority communities, are worried about what comes after Assad. We know that they have much more to fear from his continued rule, but their concerns are understandable. So I urge this gathering to send a strong message that the world will not tolerate the replacement of one form of tyranny with another. We will resolutely oppose acts of vengeance and retribution. And we will support a managed transition that leads to a new Syria where the rights of every citizen are respected and protected, not to chaos.

"To those Syrians who still support Assad, especially members of the Syrian military: understand that this regime has no future. The longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor. But if you refuse to take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen will hail you as heroes.

"Syria is a proud country of 23 million people, with a rich history and ancient culture. The end of Assad can mark a new beginning for Syria. It is a chance to rebuild and strengthen the foundations of the state. If Syrians come together, and especially if the leaders of Syria's business community, military, and other institutions recognize that their futures lie with a reformed Syrian state and not the regime, then Syria may yet emerge as a strong and unified country -- a respected and responsible leader in the region.

"That should be a goal we all share. And as we move forward today, I hope we stay focused on taking concrete steps to end the violence and support the courageous people of Syria in their aspirations."

You can read a transcript of the Secretary's remarks here.

Comments

Comments

Thomas S.
|
South Carolina, USA
February 24, 2012

Thomas S. in South Carolina writes:

I would just like to express my sincere admiration for Ms. Clinton, in her address today, warning of consequences for the Assad regime's murder of it's own citizens.

Seymour P.
|
United States
February 25, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

So, it's official! The US and the UK are once again in a full alliance with Al-Qaeda, just like back in the 1980s.

Katie S.
|
New Jersey, USA
February 25, 2012

Katie S. in New Jersey writes:

I respect Secretary of State Clinton speaking out, carefully and thoughtfully, and standing up for peace and humanity amidst so much turmoil. In preparation for the elections, there are many who are busy with words for political posturing. Those who are responsible for governing now, are busy using words to govern, to attempt to speak into chaos for peaceful change, and to stand for those are being lost in the seismic movements of the past two years. Thank you for your service to them and for us.

Respectfully,
Katie

Amie D.
|
Connecticut, USA
February 25, 2012

Amie D. in Connecticut writes:

A BIG THANK YOU to Ms. Clinton and her team for all her great work world wide to help the humanitarian cause for PEACE! HOWEVER; I would like to suggest that Hilary Clinton become the advocate to initiate CHANGE IN THE UN IMMEDIATELY, NOW THIS MONTH! We are one Global Community, on this planet Earth of Ours, WE NEED TO EMPOWER THE UN TO BE OUR ONLY WORLD GOVERNMENT/COURT, NOW! THIS CAN BE DONE QUICKLY!!! A new UN Resolution that states all countries MUST AGREE (or not belong to the UN, but still be subject to the UN World Court) TO A BASIC GLOBAL HUMAN-RIGHTS AGREEMENT( #1A): NO PRESIDENT, KING, EMPORER OR DICTATOR CAN COMMITE GENOCIDE OF ITS PEOPLE OR - UPON 90% EVIDENCE OF SUCH THE ACCUSE WILL BE TAKEN (BY FORCE, IF NECESSARY, overnight, using a multi - cultural UN special forces team) To a UN House Arrest Site for A Immediate Global World Court TRAIL! Thus all those in power in this Global Community (Planet Earth) know THE WORLD COURT LAW, and the people of this planet (Earth) know they are safely protected and will never again have to undergo CIVIL WAR/Genocide when requesting change with peaceful protest. NO MEMBER OF UN's THE WORLD COURT CAN HAVE A VETO POWER ON THIS (#1A) BASIC GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE-IT IS THE LAW OF THE GLOBAL LANDS THE WHOLE GLOBAL COMMUNITY(PLANET EARTH!

I do not think this suggestion to Hilary Clinton should be overlooked! Altered by ‘Great Minds’ yes, but please make an effort for the sake of humanity! IT'S THAT EASY! START NOW-NOT LATER! DON'T WAIT!

Maureen
|
Massachusetts, USA
February 26, 2012

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

“States working together can achieve things that are beyond what even the most powerful state can achieve by itself” -Kofi Annan June 2005.

He could be viewed by many as a seriously non- biased, non- threatening broker working to resolve the larger political needs of nations at stake and is no stranger to humanitarian emergency.

Dipnote bloggers ( below not for posting)

This subject is off topic but it appeared in LEMONDE,France Feb.24 with regard to the location of the journalists in Syria being compromised by their phones and killed.

Could be of interest to the bureau of counterterrorism.

Link-
'http://www.lemonde.fr/technologies/article/2012/02/24/en-syrie-les-dange...'

C P.
|
Japan
February 26, 2012

C. in Japan writes:

The same could be said about the USA...It's quite distressing to see one permanent member of the Security Council using its veto while people are being murdered – women, children, brave young men – houses are being destroyed," and "It is just despicable and I ask whose side are you on? You are clearly not on the side of the Palestinian people." Words means nothing to that woman!

So simple, change few words here and there...Voila! Syria bad guy, Israel good guy.

C P.
|
Japan
February 26, 2012

C. in Japan writes:

Now, we are all here because the Netanyahu regime's escalating violence in Palestine is an affront to the international community, a threat to regional security, and a grave violation of universal human rights.
To those Israelis who still support Netanyahu, especially members of the IDF: understand that this regime has no future. The longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor. But if you refuse to take part in attacks on your fellow world citizens, your countrymen will hail you as heroes.

Change few words, here and there..Voila! Now Israel is as bad as Syria...

CAP
|
Japan
February 26, 2012

C. in Japan writes:

Shedding crocodile tears over Assad's wholesale slaughter

L.Evens
February 26, 2012

L. Evens writes:

@ Amie D

Your wishes while noble - the UN is not capable of such lofty heights.

What you want - WILL happen - only when people around the world - from all countries walk together.(or at least most) This will require people moving in much different directions then their own governments in many cases.

Only when people refuse to allow to be divided by any government, one religion or live in ignorance and fear - will what you want happen.

Monolithic structures will lead to monolithic failures - the UN as a world government would be an abomination - far worse than it is now.

There is no easy way forward for change. Some will have to give up what they fear losing - that is never easy. But what people fear losing is nothing compared to what will be lost if the right change is not embraced.

Some will have to embrace what they have forgotten or have lost already.

How can anyone embrace what is right when they embrace what is wrong while believing the wrong is right? (universal)

In many ways people that view themselves as adversaries or enemies will have to come together. ( when the change starts to happen - things will look upside down.Kind of like America and AQ calling for the end of the Assad regime)(laugh)

Every country is moving in the wrong direction - every country is moving with fear - this will cause chaos for all.

Some people have know idea about the power they sit next too and can wield for far greater positive change. They build a wall around their garden and cry they are hungry like fools - while the masses build the wall higher.

People around the world should remember one thing - 99.99% of the challenges, problems and hardships they face- are man made. If you make life hard for your neighbor - you make life hard for yourself. This is the way it has always been.

Seems in thousands of years we have learned nothing - and we think ourselves advanced, superior beings. (laugh)

Look at Afghanistan at the moment with the burning of the Quran. Burning a holy book is very ignorant, but look at the response from the afghans - they allow themselves to be defined by an ignorant act (while believing they act righteous - how many lives have been lost?) Righteous people do not allow ignorance to define them. If they understood the Quran - this would not be happening.

How often do we see this sort of nonsense in social, political and religious affairs? Too often.

One ignorant act sets in motion a response of more ignorance - around and around we go -flushing one another down the toilet.

Seems we are in a global race of who can become the crappiest.(laugh)

At some point it will all come undone.

Antalya i.
|
Texas, USA
February 26, 2012

Antalya in Texas writes:

There will be a great war. Not sure the time.

arms99
February 28, 2012

W.W. writes:

Islam is playing chess or dice with the world

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 27, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Sec. Clinton and team deserve an A+ for diplomatic effort in gathering the opinions of nations together in condemming Assad's murderous depravity.

And while it's all good to try and treat the symptoms to relieve the suffering, no one as yet is willing to do what it takes to put an end to Assad's regime so the people may rejoice.

If Russia isn't willing to repo the tanks and weapons they've sold to Assad, then I think the President should put Mr. Medvedev on notice that we'd be perfectly willing to turn them into scrap without so much as a boot on the ground in Syria.

In the relm of all possibilities and options on the table of course. That our bilateral relations will suffer even further should Russian anti-air weapons be used against US/NATO pilots. That continuing to stand in the way, supporting a mass murderer, and arming him to kill his own people is in direct violation of the concept underscored in the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide and that the Syriuan crisis is at this point merits action on the ground in order to protect populations, that Russia should either stand with us, or stand aside, or be sanctioned and risk going into a very "deep freeze" of which the cold-war would be a warm reminder of.

( I'm envisioning an economic cost and isolation similar to , or greater than, when Russia invaded Georgia)

And when we get to the point of doing this, that we do it with the intent to eliminate Assad as a threat to his people and eliminate his capacity to make war on anyone with 100% totality.

If you'all want to prevent a civil war, forgetabout it, it's already happening, but disarming the regime is a better idea than arming the rebels to put a stop to it.

When protecting a population means forcing the regime to be more concerned with finding a hidy hole to crawl into than killing the people, bombs are the the ultimate tool of diplomacy.

There won't be a doubt in any Syrian's mind that the US stands with the Syrian people when Assad's palace becomes rubble before their very eyes.

No doubt in Assad's mind that he has three choices when the President of the US calls for him to "get out of the way" ; Get out of town, get busted, or get buried.

No doubt in Russia's mind of their limitations of power and influence when we do the right thing despite their objections.
Mr. Medvedev's choice is simply to create a better world for kids to live in by not being politically stupid anymore and no longer being willing to support those who murder children with their weapons.

That political stupidity will cost them dearly if it continues one more week.

China as well, for America can always find other suppliers of products and put a hurting on the Chinese economic outlook.

The Syrian crisis has exacerbated the trends of these two nations to act as spoilers to the will of the rest of the international community who seek to protect populations at risk, and in addressing a kinetic solution, the diplomacy involved in changing the nature of the behavior of governments who arm and support genocidal dictators and sponsors of terror must force them to become well aware of the concequences, and Sec. Clinton has raised some of those impending on the human and moral level.

As much as this gov. would like to have the UNSC on board, there's an aspect of allowing Russia and China (if they are successful in this instance, to continue to render the UNSC irrelevant to any and all crisis of this type in the furure) to have their way that is flat unnacceptable to creating a better more kid- friendly world to live in.

It's not really that complicated, it's just that those inclined to hand-wringing over doing what's right tend to make any solution so, along with those invested in the status quo.

When in doubt, and folks call it "complicated" , just simplify the equasion for them.

You have 135 of the UNGA condemming Assad, do you suppose that's a potential 2/3 majority to revoke Syria's UN membership, since US diplomacy is all about isolating tyrants?

Well now, there's a diplomatic experiment in the offing, just waiting to be tried in the meantime before hellfire rains down on Assad's forces and weaponry.

EJ

Seymour P.
|
United States
February 27, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

I agree very much with C. in Japan -- the double standard here is excruciating. As for all the sabre-rattlers, I am sure that you intend to help Syria just the way you helped Libya, by bringing Al-Qaeda to power and leaving the country in ruins. But I do note that Secretary Clinton acknowledged the danger of an alliance with Al-Qaeda in her remarks this morning. I only wish she could take back her ugly comments about Russia and China, made at the "Friends of Syria" get-together. We may soon be bombing Syria, but in a very friendly fashion.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 28, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Portia S. ,

If Al-quaida wants to try and hang their credibility on the coattails of regime replacement therapy instigated by the people of a nation, in a bizare alliance with us, then it's al-quaida's double standard, and no one is fooled, and I don't see AQ running things in Lybia anytime soon.

Seems you've bought the song and dance routine the Russians would have you believe, but stay tuned, I'm sure the Sec of State will have a few more choice words for them before this is all said and done w/ Syria.

It would be nice if diplomacy was the only thing needed to stop a genocide in progress, but then a saber only rattles when the sword is out and drawn and ready to cut dictators down to size.

If it's made in the USA that is.

EJ

Seymour P.
|
United States
February 29, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

@ Eric: but the hand guiding the sword is British, which is why there is no "regime change" campaign against Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, or Israel.

Walid H.
|
New York, USA
February 29, 2012

Walid H. in New York writes:

I am afraid that if keep waiting for fighting in Syria to stop, more innocent civilians will be killed, like what happened in Bosnia. If we delayed our intervention more it may be too late. We need to stop this dictator ASAP before he kills more of his people. America is the only nation who can make a difference and can stop the Iranian influence in the region, for the sake of all the countries in the region.

.

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