The White House on Thursday angrily denounced a bloody overnight raid on Aleppo University by Syrian troops, and warned that it may soon be time for the world to “admit defeat” in its current strategy of driving President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to halt a deadly yearlong crackdown on opposition to his regime.
“If the regime’s intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat and work to address the serious threat to peace and stability being perpetrated by the Assad regime” via the U.N. Security Council or the ad-hoc “Friends of Syria” group of countries, said spokesman Jay Carney.
For weeks, Carney and other White House officials have expressed frustration with Assad’s failure to abide by a ceasefire plan brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, warning on an almost daily basis that he must comply or face unspecified reprisals from the international community. But Russia and China’s opposition to punishing Syria at the U.N. Security Council makes that route difficult to take. And Obama’s critics have expressed increased frustration with his refusal to arm Assad’s opposition.
On Thursday, however, an Obama national security aide shed a bit more light on why the administration hasn’t simply declared that the current Annan plan is a dead letter.
“We remain extremely skeptical about the likelihood of success of the Annan plan, the aide, who requested anonymity, told Yahoo News by email. ” However, we support it because we believe it is deterring some regime violence in Syria and will help in the collection of evidence for future accountability,”
“Additionally, the Syrian opposition has welcomed the monitors’ presence on the ground. We also believe this mission can lay the foundation for a political transition, which remains our goal,” said the aide. The comments came after the overnight raid, which began late Wednesday and lasted until dawn, leaving four students dead and 28 wounded. About 200 students were arrested.
“We do condemn the raid overnight of a peaceful student protest in Aleppo that was met with live gunfire, beatings and the arrests of scores of people. These kinds of acts, which are now routine, lay bare this regime’s illegitimacy and they underscore the urgent need for a political transition,” Carney said.
“We continue to hope that the Annan plan succeeds. And we are working to support it in every way possible. However, it is clear and we will not deny that the plan has not been succeeding thus far, and that the regime has made no effort to take any of the steps required under the Annan plan, including moving toward the implementation of a full ceasefire,” Carney said.