As the U.S. mobilises international support against the authoritarian Syrian regime, the Obama Administration wants India and China, the two countries having major investment in Syria’s energy sector, to step up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to curtail his government’s brutal crackdown on protests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
“We’ve issued more sanctions, tougher sanctions. We’re working with our European and other friends. But what we really need to do to put the pressure on Assad is to sanction the oil and gas industry, and we want to see Europe take more steps in that direction,” Ms. Clinton told the CBS evening news in an interview on Thursday.
“We want to see China take steps with us. We want to see India, because India and China have large energy investments inside of Syria. We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime,” Ms. Clinton said.
This is for the first time that the US has gone public in asking India to take steps against the Syrian regime by imposing bilateral sanctions on it.
Ms. Clinton acknowledged that because of limited economic relations, the US has very little stake in it.
“We have such a small stake in what they produce and what they market. The real trick is to convince the Europeans and the Arabs and the Chinese and the Indians and others,” she said.
“We’re going to sanction, and we have been upping the sanctions. We’re going to continue to do so. But we want others to follow, because Syria was not one of our major economic partners. It wasn’t anybody that we had a particularly good relationship with before this all started, although we were open to improving the relationship if they showed that they were going to make changes. And obviously, that’s not in the cards right now,” she said.
Ms. Clinton said the Obama Administration has been very clear in saying that it the Assad regime has lost its legitimacy.
“I think we were among the very first to say it. We’ve sent a very clear message that he should be doing what is necessary to end the violence against his own people,” she said.
“But it’s important that it’s not just the American voice, and we want to make sure that those voices are coming from around the world.
And the Russians and the Chinese joined our presidential statement, after saying that they would never do anything to condemn the Assad regime,” she said.
“I come from the school that we want results, not rhetoric. And what we have done for the last several months is — behind the scenes and in front of the cameras — to build the pressure on Assad and the people around him,” she said.
“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind where the United States stands. We’ve reached out to the opposition, we have been very proud of our ambassador, who has carried the message of our country and our values right into Hama, into the heart of the Syrian repression.
So I think we have done what is actually going to pay off rather than just rhetorically calling for him to go,” Ms. Clinton said. Hindu