As worries over the safety of staff members at the US Embassy in Syria grow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on Wednesday that the Arab League monitoring mission in Syria cannot remain there indefinitely.
Travel Warning in Syria
The State Department issued a travel warning on Wednesday and has ordered several embassy workers to exit Syria as soon as they can.
Clinton stated at a press conference which she held alongside the prime minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani that, “I think it’s clear to both the prime minister and myself that the monitoring mission should not continue indefinitely.”
“We cannot permit Assad and his regime to have impunity,” Clinton said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Syrians deserve a peaceful transition.”
The Arab League excluded Syria from its organization last November in response to the violent oppression of protestors by the Syrian president. After suspending Syria the Arab League sent a mission to observe the Syrian climate. After some of the League’s monitors were attacked earlier this week, they decided to postpone sending for additional monitors.
“Two weeks ago, Arab League monitors arrived in Syria to judge whether the regime was keeping its promise to end the killings, withdraw its troops, release political prisoners and follow through on the commitments that it had made,” Clinton said. “So far, the regime has not done so.”
Chillingly Cynical Speech
Clinton criticized Assad’s speech of last Tuesday as “chillingly cynical.” The speech blamed the interference of foreign elements for the protest movement of the previous year against his rule, vowing to squash “terrorism” with an iron-fist.
“Instead of taking responsibility, what we hear from President Assad in his chillingly cynical speech yesterday was only making excuses, blaming foreign countries, conspiracies,” Clinton said.
US and Arab League to Work Together
Clinton stressed that the United States was planning to work together with the Arab League when the monitoring mission comes to an end on January 19.
The prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, Al-Thani expressed serious doubts that Arab League monitors had any power to prevent bloodshed.
“I could not see up until now a successful mission, frankly speaking,” al-Thani said, adding that monitors’ final report later this month could help guide the next steps on the crisis.
“This report will be very important for us to make the right judgment,” he said. “We hope we solve it, as we say, in the House of the Arabs but right now the Syrian government is not helping us.”