Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also announced that the United States would contribute an additional $12.2 million for humanitarian aid to Syria, bringing the U.S. total since the uprising began to $25 million, as well as “communications equipment” to “help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world.”
Foreign ministers and other top officials from more than 80 nations and international organizations gathered here for a Friends of Syria meeting publicly warned Assad that he has little time left to comply with demands he stop his year-long slaughter of his own citizens. In private, the officials debated what their governments will do if, as expected, Assad does not stop.
“The window of opportunity. . .is not open-ended,” the group said in a statement issued at the close of the meeting. It suggested “a return to the United Nations Security Council, if the killing continues.”
Despite Assad’s agreement more than a week ago to order his troops to stop attacking civilians, to allow the safe passage of humanitarian aid and to begin negotiations for a government transition, the statement said, the regime’s abuses “continue unabated.”
Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League envoy who met with Assad, is due to deliver a status report to the Security Council on Monday, and the statement directed him to “determine a timeline for next steps. . .if the killing continues.” Influential participants in the Friends group indicated that the timeline would constitute a deadline, perhaps a matter of weeks, for Assad’s compliance.
What the statement called the regime’s attempt to “manipulate” and “deceive the international community“ seemed to have generated a new level of resolve among countries, including the United States, that have long insisted Assad must step aside.
Speaker after speaker at the conference vowed what its host, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, called “determined and committed” action, even as the problems and proposals that emerged seemed little different than when the Friends last met a month ago in Tunisia.
Clinton said at a news conference that “there is no more time for excuses or delay. This is the moment of truth.”
There is still little international appetite for a full-scale military intervention. But officials from several countries described consensus on a range of escalating steps to pressure the regime, aid opposition fighters and ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the Syrian people.