President Obama on Thursday for the first time told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad he must step down.
“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led,” Obama said in a statement made some five months after Syria’s uprising began. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
While the move was largely symbolic, designed to increase pressure on the Syrian government, Obama also issued an executive order to show he meant what he said. The order immediately froze all assets of the Syrian government subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibited Americans from engaging in any transaction involving the government, the Post’s Jason Ukman and Liz Sly reported Thursday.
Obama’s announcement was coordinated with a joint statement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also urging Assad to step aside.
“We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people,” the statement said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a similar announcement:
On Twitter, reactions of joy came in from around the world:
Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff drew this cartoon depicting the Syrian leader: