Back in August, Senator Bob Casey was one of the first members of Congress to call for regime change in Syria due to the massacres of civilian protesters by the Syrian government. More than two weeks later, President Obama finally followed Senator Casey’s example and also called for Bashar al-Assad to step down. In terms no stronger than those of Senator Casey’s from two weeks earlier, President Obama stated that “[f]or the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
Now, nearly 6 months later, Senator Casey, who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs subcommittee, will be leading the charge on a resolution that would set into writing that it is the sense of the Senate that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave power and that the United States should begin providing direct support to the opposition to make that happen. The story on the resolution is via Josh Rogin at The Cable:
“The Senate… urges the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria by identifying and providing substantial material and technical support, upon request, to Syrian organizations that are representative of the people of Syria, make demonstrable commitments to protect human rights and religious freedom, reject terrorism, cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries.”
The State Department has said it could provide humanitarian assistance in Syria but has stopped short of pledging any aid that could be used in the burgeoning civil war between the opposition and the Syrian regime.
The resolution also urges Obama to add more targeted sanctions on Syrian officials, establish a “Friends of the Syrian People” group, engage the international community on the potential to provide safe havens for Syrian civilians, begin discussions about prosecuting those guilty of war crimes in Syria, and get a handle on the vulnerability and security of Syria’s conventional, biological, chemical, and other weapons.
The senators also call out Russia and China for vetoing the recent United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria and condemn Russia and Iran for supplying the Syrian regime with weapons.
“Bashar al-Assad is responsible for killing at least 6,000 Syrian men, women, and children. The regime’s brutal violence has torn the country apart and threatens to destabilize the entire region. The international community can and should do more to support the people of Syria during this terrible hour in their history,” said Casey, in a statement to The Cable.