After weeks of ratcheting up the criticism and pressure, President Obama has finally explicitly called for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to resign. He intensified sanctions on by freezing all assets of the regime under American jurisdiction and imposing other tough measures, but he ruled out “foreign intervention.”
"The time has come for President Assad to step aside" Obama said as he announced "unprecedented sanctions
to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime" and disrupt its "campaign of violence" that has seen the killing of thousands of Syrians in recent months. These include freezing all government assets subject to US jurisdiction, prohibiting Americans from doing business with the regime, banning imports of Syrian-origin petroleum and petroleum products, and other measures. Obama said he expects others to reinforce these measures, particularly the U.N. Security Council.
European leaders followed Obama’s lead with their own strong calls
for Assad’s resignation.
Washington has limited influence in Damascus and the administration is looking for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to increase the pressure.
The Saudis have uncharacteristically gone public with their criticism, even withdrawing their ambassador. They want to see a peaceful end to the Syrian uprising before it inspires imitation in the kingdom, one of the world’s most repressive regimes, and it has become clear to the Riyadh royals that Assad is not interested in a peaceful solution.
Keep an eye on China and Russia, who have been Assad’s most valuable enablers, blocking tough international sanctions in the UN Security Council. And no wonder. They are also repressive regimes and can identify with another autocrat facing a population that wants to shake off the bonds of tyranny.