President Obama, in his speech today ( May 19th 2011) sharply delivers an ultimatum to Bahsar Al-Assad while recognizing Tehran’s regime’s hand in the Syrian government’s crack-down and repression of its opponents. He expressly told Al-Assad to “lead the transition (to democracy) or get out of the way”. And at the same time hails the Iranian opposition as the catalyst for the peaceful demonstrations of the people of the middle east and north Africa region.
Some excerpts of the speech:
The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad
Thus far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression. This speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet suppresses its people at home. Let us remember that the first peaceful protests were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail. We still hear the chants echo from the rooftops of Tehran. The image of a young woman dying in the streets is still seared in our memory. And we will continue to insist that the Iranian people deserve their universal rights, and a government that does not smother their aspirations.
At the same time, he does not spare the US allies (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and other states) while sugar coating his words of warning and demands for reform.
I presume this was a reply to many people’s remarks on the duality of US policy towards certain middle eastern countries and allies. Perhaps this is indeed a reset button for the US policy in the region. Although with the upcoming re-election year one may wonder exactly how much of the future events of the region would weigh on his administration’s mind.