Op-Ed: "There Is No Going Back in Syria"

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 17, 2011
A Syrian Refugee Gestures As He Looks Through the Fence

In an op-ed in the Asharq Al-Awsat (in Arabic), Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemns the violent crackdown in Syria and calls for a transition to democracy. The full text of the op-ed appears below.

There Is No Going Back in SyriaBy Hillary Clinton

As the violent crackdown in Syria continues, President Assad has shown that he is more interested in his own power than his people.

The world has joined Syrians in mourning the deaths of many innocent people, including a 13-year old boy who was brutally tortured and mutilated. Approximately thirteen hundred Syrians have been killed since protests began. Many thousands more have been jailed and abused. Syrian security forces have surrounded communities and cut off electricity, communications and the Internet. Economic activity has slowed, the country is increasingly isolated and its citizens are growing more frustrated every day.

In his May 19 speech, President Obama echoed demonstrators' basic and legitimate demands: the Assad government must stop shooting demonstrators, allow peaceful protest, release political prisoners, stop unjust arrests, give access to human rights monitors, and start an inclusive dialogue to advance a democratic transition. President Assad, he said, could either lead that transition or get out of the way.

It is increasingly clear that President Assad has made his choice. But while continued brutality may allow him to delay the change that is underway in Syria, it will not reverse it.

As Syria's neighbors and the international community respond to this crisis, we should be guided by the answers to several key questions: Why has it erupted? What does the crackdown reveal about President Assad and his regime? And where does Syria go from here?

First, there should be no doubt about the nature of the protests in Syria.

Like Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and others across the Middle East and North Africa, the Syrian people are demanding their long-denied universal rights and rejecting a government that rules through fear, squanders their talents through corruption, and denies them the dignity of having a voice in their own future. They are organizing themselves, including the local coordinating committees, and they are refusing to back down even in the face of revolting violence.

If President Assad believes that the protests are the work of foreign instigators -- as his government has claimed -- he is wrong. It is true that some Syrian soldiers have been killed, and we regret the loss of those lives too. But the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians. By continuing to ban foreign journalists and observers, the regime seeks to hide these facts.

Second, President Assad is showing his true colors by embracing the repressive tactics of his ally Iran and putting Syria onto the path of a pariah state.

By following Iran's lead, President Assad is placing himself and his regime on the wrong side of history. He will learn that legitimacy flows from the consent of the people and cannot be forged through bullets and billyclubs.

President Assad's violent crackdown has shattered his claims to be a reformer. For years, he has offered pledges and promises, but all that matters are his actions. A speech, no matter how dutifully applauded by regime apologists, will not change the reality that the Syrian people, despite being told they live in a republic, have never had the opportunity to freely elect their leaders. These citizens want to see a real transition to democracy and a government that honors their universal rights and aspirations.

If President Assad believes he can act with impunity because the international community hopes for his cooperation on other issues, he is wrong about this as well. He and his regime are certainly not indispensable.

A Syria that is unified, pluralistic, and democratic could play a positive and leading role in the region, but under President Assad the country is increasingly becoming a source of instability. The refugees streaming into Turkey and Lebanon, and the tensions being stoked on the Golan, should dispel the notion that the regime is a bulwark of regional stability that must be protected.

Finally, the answer to the most important question of all -- what does this mean for Syria's future? -- is increasingly clear: There is no going back.

Syrians have recognized the violence as a sign of weakness from a regime that rules by coercion, not consent. They have overcome their fears and have shaken the foundations of this authoritarian system.

Syria is headed toward a new political order -- and the Syrian people should be the ones to shape it. They should insist on accountability, but resist any temptation to exact revenge or reprisals that might split the country, and instead join together to build a democratic, peaceful and tolerant Syria.

Considering the answers to all these questions, the United States chooses to stand with the Syrian people and their universal rights. We condemn the Assad regime's disregard for the will of its citizens and Iran's insidious interference.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on senior Syrian officials, including President Assad. We are carefully targeting leaders of the crackdown, not the Syrian people. We welcomed the decisions by the European Union to impose its own sanctions and by the UN Human Rights Council to launch an investigation into abuses. The United States will continue coordinating closely with our partners in the region and around world to increase pressure on and further isolate the Assad regime.

The Syrian people will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear. They deserve a government that respects its people, works to build a more stable and prosperous country, and doesn't have to rely on repression at home and antagonism abroad to maintain its grip on power. They deserve a nation that is unified, democratic and a force for stability and progress. That would be good for Syria, good for the region and good for the world.

Related Content: Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa



james b.
Missouri, USA
June 22, 2011

James in Missouri writes:

i belive you are totally correct allso not stated is aquireing arms for hammas and other movements and being allighned and assiting iran deams them hostile to the area and thay nead to have all things in any way to0 topple this corrrupt and islamist govenment that is assiting iran hezzbulla hammas islamic jiahdd and other factions provideing sancuary and safe areas to attack western intrest and israel allso i would be most grate full if through in anyway to secure a grant that i do not have to repay and i belive that you should run for office as the first female president in the us so do manny keep me in mind in whatever thank you mrs clintion

Omar J.
Massachusetts, USA
June 22, 2011

Omar in Massachusetts writes:

Pressure?! Isolation?! Its time to call assad to step aside!! He has clearly lost his legitamancy!! But as a Syrian i can say that i know the Syrian people will keep fighting for their freedom and they will gain it if god wills it with or without the help of others!!Its the Syrian people that are feeling isolated and not the Syrian regime. I as a Syrian American citizen am very dissapointed at how unsupportive the US is being of the Syrian people!!

Florida, USA
June 22, 2011

Naomi in Florida writes:

If the U.S. wasn't spread so thin, I feel that we could possibly be more effective in syria.

June 22, 2011

W.W. writes:

The Syrian people love her President Bashar al-Assad, as Syrians, we are surprised to insist on lies and disinformation.

Ibrahim S.
June 22, 2011

Ibrahim writes:

You don't have the right to judge our leaders, stop your stupid lies, you know the whole truth but you keep on inventing lies just to put more pressure on the countries that disagree with your politics, and pass it to your puppet news agencies who keeps on repeating your lies days and nights.

The whole world knows the lies you created to invade Iraq, the whole world knows your scandals in "Abu Ghureib", STOP pretending being the human rights protectors while you are the first one to violate it...

The Syrians has revealed your conspiracy and will defeat you again...

We want our president and you can do nothing about that...

June 22, 2011

Gabi in Lithuania writes:

Do you like it when someone interferes in your own life ? probably not, so .. the mother and child, husband and wife relationship, the president and his State its indivisible .. is their own affair as they decide their own affairs, and no must not interfere, SYRIA ARE FREE COUNTRY..JUST PLZ NOT NEED YOUR HELP...

June 20, 2011

E. writes:

Great Same vision

Libya : Democratic election ... Libyan society must be set on European standards..


June 20, 2011

Intesar writes:

USE sorry to tell you, you are wrong ,
Our president care about each of us like his family, friend, and kids
He loves every part of Syria and all ppl of Syria.
Stop showing the world your wrong idea, we love basher alassad, and we will die to have him save as well as Syria,,,,,,,,,,

nadim a.
June 20, 2011

Nadim A. in Syria writes:

Syrians don't want american democracy because it means killing civilians, and it is terrorism support , like what you did in iraq,
Obama , Clinton , you should know syrians love the president Assad and syria. Keep your selfs out.

June 20, 2011

Janet in Syria writes:

For Obama and Clinton>>>>> You are completely wrong
1- There is no violent crackdown in Syria. Since I am one of people in Syria I know exactly what is going on.
2- The boy (13 young old) is in fact young man 17 years old and he was using a gun to shoot the people in Dera'a. So do not make him an honest.
3- That young man died by the hand of his friends, whom were using the weapons also against people in that city. And he was not brutally tortured and mutilated.
You have to be sure before give your opinion. Do not lie at yourself and your people.
4- As Syrian people we do not need the world to join us in mourning the deaths of many innocent people. Because it is a kind of war you have started on our beautiful country. So again do not be lier. The world has no innocent feeling to Syrian people.
5- communications ……..I think, you are sorry for the unlegally communications , that have been spread in Syria by USA and her friends.
6- Syria is not increasingly isolated and its citizens are not growing more frustrated every day.
7- (As Syria's neighbors), yes you are right because you are occupied Iraq.
8- For your information, Syrian people have all rights, dignity, and we know exactly how to decide our own future. We do not need any body or any community to learn us our rights. But regarding the corruptions, you already have it in USA and every place in the world, and we know exactly how to solve it.
9- Syrian government has respond to the rights demands of people in the first protests, and the protests began to be limited and smaller, but you will not believe that. We sure that you will not believe in that. And the fact is our government gave us solutions. But a foreign instigators started playing there. Your problem is that you do not want to listen and see. Syrian soldiers have not been killed only, but also the criminals whom supported by your governments, have cut the soldiers bodies into pieces. Some of the bodies have no heads or have been cutting into two pieces in the middle of their bodies. Some of them have burned. Some of them without arms or legs. I think you have to see the bodies better. It is difficult to describe.
10- By the way, regarding the speech of President Assad. I want you to compare it with Netanyahu's speech in front of United State Congress. Your Congress was an evil council. You clubbed the hands more than 20 times for a man, who is a criminal. You seemed to be like his slaves. At least we clubbed our hands for our own President.
11- I can understand that you are angry of Iran, Hizzb Allah and Syria. That is very simple to understand. Since you support your little spoiled child Israel, you will not allow anyone to say no to Israel. But we will always say NO.
12- President Bashar Al Assad always did what he promised to do. You are not Syrian so you do not know what he achieved although of all the difficulties.
13- The United States have already targeting the Syrian people in your sanctions because tens of people or maybe hundreds lose their jobs because of those sanctions.
14- Bashar Al Assad is a legal president and his legitimacy flows from his own people. You have no right to decide such a matter which belongs to another state.
15- One last point or question. Why did Israel decide to send a ship to help the Syrian people in Iskenderun although we are enemies???
Also you have to know that Iskenderun is a Syrian land so the Syrian people are not refugees, because it does not belong to turkey land.
In the end ……..
Every civilized human should know that he has two homes. The first one is Syria and the second is where he lives>>>>>>LONG LIVE GREAT SYRIA

Anthony F.
Connecticut, USA
June 20, 2011

Anthony F. in Connecticut writes:

The American people will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear. They deserve a government that respects its people, works to build a more stable and prosperous country, and doesn't have to rely on repression at home and antagonism abroad to maintain its grip on power. They deserve a nation that is unified, democratic and a force for stability and progress. That would be good for The United States, and good for the world.

Anthony F.
Connecticut, USA
June 20, 2011

Anthony F. in Connecticut writes:

The US Government is reviewing and possibly not displaying comments? I guess my tax dollars are going to my own repression. What happened to the First Amendment? Are US citizens free?

Free S.
June 20, 2011

F.S. writes:

The majority of Syrians in Syria and abroad are behind our president Dr. Bashar. We are fighting the most brutal wave of radical Islamists who have been killing, butchering, and mutilating bodies of everyone who's of a different sect. Enoug...h with your hypocrisy, we've seen what you have done in Iraq. You don't give a damn about Syria or the people of Syria, you just want to see the country divided like you've done with Iraq. The Syrian people are united in the face of this imported wave of terror, and we will defeat it with your approval or without it. DO YOURSELF AND THE SYRIAN PEOPLE A FAVOR AND STAY THE HELL OUT OF OUR BUSINESS.

Rasha D.
June 20, 2011

Rasha D. in Syria writes:

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I applaud you for supporting the Syrian people demands to acquire their long denied universal rights. I thank you for sending this clear message to this despotic regime that coersion and violence is no longer an acceptable behavior and will not be tolerated by the world community and precisely the United States and that it will suffer the severe consequences for its inhuman actions against its own people. Justice and dignity, two values highly upheld by the United States must prevail.
Again you have our people gratitude for your clear message and persuing the pressure to protect the innocents.
Rasha Demashkieh

June 21, 2011

C. writes:

Ultimatum :

Assad must leave and his followers are asked to leave their Fatherland until they do not understand what is a murder.

Iran Is welcomed to engage
Iran: no democratic right for its citizen to vote for nuclear energy sources

America with his European, Mid eastern,African and Soviets partner is going to enter in Syria in order to restore democracy peace and prosperity a good owned by the Syrian people and not by a syrian theocratic naked king.

Grant G.
Michigan, USA
June 30, 2011

Grant from Michigan writes:

The United States government should bring home all troops. Non-intervention and example is the way to lead. There is no reason for Americans to police the world.

New Mexico, USA
June 30, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Here's a little food for thought for all those commenting here in support of Assad's insanity.

You know folks, as an American all I really want to see is folks generally get their act together and stop being stupid;...there's a reason it took me ten years to write "The Cure for Political Stupidity, and /or How not to go to war with America", and I'm still not sure if dictators are a byproduct of genetic mutation or simply idiots due to the fact that their mommies and daddies were brother and sister.

But good folks like yourself came before you praising one such as this and followed Hitler over oblivion's cliff.

Lest you'all make the same mistake today, you might want to take off your rose-colored glasses.

Just sayin'...

It's your country and you can screw it up if you want to, just don't screw with us or we'll drop a rock on your pencil necked geek you call a leader, but who is just a chip off the old block, for like father like son,...mass murder runs in the family.

Good luck with it,


United States
July 5, 2011

Bahaa in U.S.A. writes:

Step down Al-assad , everybody detest you
without such a regime , Syria would be a better place free of corruption. Only in Syria people & (children) are killed because they call for freedom. he is way worse than Hitler himself ! Save humanity !

Michigan, USA
August 8, 2011

Andrew in Michigan writes:

Bring ALL the troops home. War breeds hate, it strips people of their privacy slowly and turns us all against each other when we are not enemies but friends that wish to live among each other in peace not terror.


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