Reports of Killings near Hama “Outrageous,” White House Says
By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
June 7, 2012
The Obama administration says “multiple credible sources” have reported the targeted killings of Syrian civilians, including women and children, near the city of Hama and describes the murders as “outrageous,” urging the international community to unite around a plan that will offer Syrians a democratic, representative and inclusive government.
White House press secretary Jay Carney condemned the reported killings in Al-Qubeir in a June 7 statement and said that when coupled with the refusal of Bashar al-Assad’s regime to allow U.N. peace observers into the area to verify witness accounts, the reports are “an affront to human dignity and justice.”
“Assad’s continued abdication of responsibility for these horrific acts has no credibility and only further underscores the illegitimate and immoral nature of his rule,” Carney said.
He added there is “no justification” for the regime’s “continued defiance of its obligations” that it agreed to under U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which calls for an end to violence, unhindered access for humanitarian agencies and international media, the release of detainees and the start of an inclusive political dialogue with the Syrian opposition.
“The future of Syria will be determined by the Syrian people, and the international community must come together in support of their legitimate aspirations,” Carney said, calling on all countries to “abandon support for this brutal and illegitimate regime, and to join together to support a political transition in Syria — one that upholds the promise of a future for which far too many have already died.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters in Turkey June 7 that the violence outside Hama was “simply unconscionable,” saying Assad has “doubled down on his brutality and duplicity.”
She said Syria will not and cannot be “peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes,” and “the time has come for the international community to unite around a plan for post-Assad Syria.”
The Assad regime must implement all six points of the Annan plan, “including a real cease-fire agreed to and observed by all parties,” she said, and the Syrian leader must also “transfer power and depart Syria.”
Clinton also called for an interim representative government to be established through negotiation, and for a transition phase to result in “a democratic, representative and inclusive government,” with civilian control of the military, security forces that will respect the rule of law, and equality “for all Syrians regardless of background.”
The international community needs to unite “behind a plan that is achievable and keeps faith with those inside Syria who are protesting and demonstrating, suffering, and dying for their universal human rights,” she said.
It is important for the international community to give the Annan plan “the last amount of support that we can muster because in order to bring others into a frame of mind to take action in the Security Council, there has to be a final recognition that it’s not working,” she said.
“We’re disgusted by what we see happening. But we know that the hard work ahead requires getting more and more people to agree with us that there must be a transition and to help facilitate it,” Clinton said.
State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters June 7 that the Annan plan is “a good plan” that needs to be implemented.
He called on Russia and China to support implementation “so that we can bring the right amount of pressure to bear on Assad.”
The situation in Syria is having spillover effects in Turkey, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it is now “clearly in the purview of the U.N. Security Council,” he said.
“This is what the U.N. Security Council was created for, to deal with these kinds of situations,” Toner said.
At the U.N. General Assembly June 7, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Syria and the United Nations are now “at a pivotal moment,” warning that the situation inside the country and the region “can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point,” with an “imminent and real” threat of full-scale civil war.
U.N. observers are working to get to the scene of the killings outside Hama; Ban said that in addition to being initially denied access to the area, they were shot at.
He said there is “too little evidence” that the Assad regime is living up to its commitments under the Annan plan, and Annan himself confirmed to the General Assembly June 7 that his plan is not being implemented.
“It is your shared interest, and our collective responsibility, to act quickly. The process cannot be open-ended. The longer we wait, the more radicalized and polarized the situation will become, and the harder it will be to forge a political settlement,” Annan said.
He said the actions or interventions of individual countries will not resolve the crisis and called on the international community to “act as one.”
“As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming,” Annan said.