President Obama took a break from campaigning to put in a few hours at his day job, today. Instead of using his bully pulpit to push domestic policy proposals that will be central to the 2012 election, the leader of the free world called out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in no uncertain terms.
“Stop killing your people,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “Stop the violence. Commit yourself to a cease-fire. Commit yourself fully to implementing the Annan plan. Remove your troops. Withdraw your materiel, your weapons, from urban population centers. And I hope that this message is heard.”
It is becoming increasingly clear to the international community that Assad’s government plans to disregard certain terms of a cease-fire brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Carney said of the humanitarian crisis, “While there are some signs of a tentative cease-fire holding at this point in time, that is not the same as full implementation of the commitments that the Assad regime made 12 days ago when it said it would implement the Annan plan.”
United Nations’ estimates put the death toll of Assad’s brutal crackdown on the Syrian opposition at around 9,000. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have emphasized the need for diplomacy to solve this latest crisis on the Levant, though neither one ruled out intervention if Assad cannot be stopped with peace talks alone.