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What a shame.  He tried so hard, but the Security Council tied his hands.  Thank you for your service Mr. Secretary.  We appreciate your efforts. ( I just watched the world news and heard zero about this!)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan walk to the podium before their meeting at the State Department in Washington June 8, 2012 . REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Resignation of Kofi Annan as Joint Special Envoy for Syria

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 2, 2012

Earlier today, I spoke with Kofi Annan and thanked him on behalf of the United States for his service as the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria. Five months ago, he took on the heavy task of trying to bring an end to the killing of civilians in Syria and to forge a path toward a peaceful political transition and an inclusive, representative post-Assad Syria. He worked tirelessly to try to build consensus in the international community, end the bloodshed, and usher in a government that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Unfortunately, the Security Council was blocked from giving him key tools to advance his efforts.

I wish Kofi Annan well in his future endeavors. To the Syrian people: the United States continues to stand with you and we remain committed to an effective and swift political transition as envisioned under the Annan framework.

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Press Availability at the United Nations

Press Availability

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations Headquarters
New York City
March 12, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon, everyone. Before I begin, let me say that like many Americans, I was shocked and saddened by the killings of innocent Afghan villagers this weekend. We send our condolences to families who have lost their loved ones and to the people of Afghanistan. This is not who we are, and the United States is committed to seeing that those responsible are held accountable.I’ve had a series of productive discussions today with my counterparts focused largely on challenges and opportunities facing a fast-changing Middle East and North Africa. First, in private and public meetings, we continued our international efforts to stop the horrific campaign of violence that continues unabated in Syria.

Five weeks ago, we were blocked at the Security Council from even condemning the violence and endorsing a peaceful plan developed by Syria’s own neighbors. But we have refused to let that stand in the way of our support for the Syrian people.

The United States believes in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member-states, but we do not believe that sovereignty offers a grant of immunity when governments massacre their own people, threatening in the process the peace and stability we are collectively committed to protect. How cynical it is that even as Assad was receiving former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Syrian army was conducting a fresh assault on Idlib and continuing its aggression in Hama, Homs, and Rastan.

I had a constructive conversation today with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. We discussed his meetings this past weekend with the Arab League in Cairo, where he agreed on the necessity of an end to violence; full, unimpeded humanitarian access; and a political process led by former Secretary General Kofi Annan; and based on the terms of the Arab League and UN General Assembly resolutions.

Now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League. We should say with one voice as an international community that the killing of innocent Syrians must stop, and a political transition begin.

Second, I was pleased to be here today when we renewed and updated the UN support mission in Libya. Last year, the Security Council, the Arab League, and countries around the world acted to help Libya in its moment of need. Today’s renewal reflects our continued commitment to Libya and our recognition that our work to help the Libyan people achieve the future they aspire toward is not yet finished.

Finally, today, we held an informal consultation of the Quartet. We remain committed to the overall objectives the Quartet outlined last September and we agreed to meet in April. We reiterated our support for Jordanian peacemaking efforts and our call to both parties to remain engaged and to refrain from provocative actions.

I also, on behalf of the United States, condemned in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, which continued over the weekend. We call on those responsible to take immediate action to end these attacks, and we call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm.

Now, it is no secret that the pursuit of Mideast peace is difficult work, but the Palestinian people – just like their Arab neighbors, Israelis, and all people – deserve dignity, liberty, and the right to decide their own future. They deserve a viable, independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. But we know, from decades in the diplomatic trenches, that the only way to get there is through a negotiated peace, a peace that cannot be dictated from outside by the United States, the United Nations, or anyone else, and one we will continue to pursue through every productive avenue.

With that, I will take your questions.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take three today. We’ll start with Lachlan Carmichael from AFP.

QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary. This morning with Mr. Lavrov, did you secure any commitments or progress towards getting the elements you need for a ceasefire and getting humanitarian aid into Syria? And two, did you discuss the Russian arms shipments to Syria? Did you ask them to stop that? And what did he say?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I did appreciate the opportunity I had today to discuss with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a week after the Russian elections and after his meetings with the Arab League, the way forward. I think he has heard clearly how strong the feelings are in the region and on the Security Council, and that we expect all nations, including Russia and China, to join us now in pressing the Assad regime to silence its guns, to allow humanitarian aid to enter, and to make way for a real political transition that protects the rights of all Syrians.

I pointed out my very strong view that the alternative to our unity on these points will be bloody internal conflict with dangerous consequences for the whole region. So our message is clear: It is past time for action to save lives, to protect the dignity and rights of a proud people, and to meet our obligations as Security Council members to protect peace and security.

Now, Foreign Minister Lavrov will take what he heard here back to Moscow, and we are all waiting to hear from former Secretary General Kofi Annan as to his advice about the best way forward. In the meantime, we will be continuing our efforts with the other 70-plus members of the Friends of the Syrian People to get humanitarian aid where it is so desperately needed, to tighten sanctions on Assad and his regime, and to strengthen the transition planning of the opposition.

We want to support the efforts of Kofi Annan and the Arab League to end the violence, but we believe that we must act soon. So we are hoping that after the consultations today, after the meetings in Cairo, after Kofi Annan’s visit to Damascus and his follow-on consultations, that we will be prepared in the Security Council to chart a path forward. That is what we are committed to and that is what we are hoping and expecting the Russians and others to support us in doing.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much. On Afghanistan, I was wondering how do unfortunate events like this and the Qu’ran burning affect your diplomacy there, and how might that affect the negotiations with Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, this was a terrible, awful – I can’t even imagine the impact on the families who were subject to this attack and the loss of children in this terrible incident. I join, of course, with President Obama, Secretary Panetta, and other representatives of our government and the American people in expressing our deepest regret and condolences. A full investigation is underway, a suspect is in custody, and we will hold anyone found responsible fully accountable.

Now, we’ve had a difficult and complex few weeks in Afghanistan. That is obvious to everyone. This terrible incident does not change our steadfast dedication to protecting the Afghan people and to doing everything we can to help build a strong and stable Afghanistan. So we remain committed to the goals that we and our partners have set forth. We remain committed to solid cooperation with the government and people of Afghanistan as they strengthen their own security and improve their democratic institutions. But, we recognize that an incident like this is inexplicable and will certainly cause many questions to be asked.

But, I hope that everyone understands in Afghanistan and around the world that the United States is committed to seeing Afghanistan continue its move toward a stable, secure, prosperous, democratic state. The people of Afghanistan deserve that, and that’s where we will continue to focus our efforts.

And yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Kindly can you spell out your understanding of the five points agreed to between Mr. Lavrov and – in Cairo with the Arab ministers? As Mr. Juppe had said, he sensed ambiguity in the interpretation of the Russians of that. What are the terms of reference as far as you see them, particularly related to the political process and references for Mr. Kofi Annan’s mission?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, we think that the five points that were discussed in Cairo are not ambiguous. They are clear in the direction that we wish to head. But it is certainly, as Foreign Minister Juppe and others have said, going to require a lot of work to put them into operation.

First and foremost, the Assad government has to end the violence against its own people. There is nothing ambiguous about that. And as I said to Foreign Minister Lavrov today, there is no equivalence to that either. The monopoly on deadly violence belongs to the Syrian regime, and there needs to be an end to the violence and the bloodshed in order to move into a political process. Now, of course, once the Syrian Government has acted, then we would expect others as well to cease the violence. But there cannot be an expectation for defenseless citizens in the face of artillery assaults to end their capacity to defend themselves before there’s a commitment by the Assad regime to do so.

So I think that there’s no questioning that these five points all must move forward, and certainly the reports we’re getting from former Secretary General Kofi Annan is that he is meeting with parties, starting with the Arab League and with the Assad regime, to try to hammer out a way forward using those five points as a framework.

But the United States, for one, is very clear. There must be a cessation of violence by the Syrian regime first and foremost. Then we can move toward asking others, who will no longer need to defend themselves because we will be in a political process, to end their own counter-violence.

So we want to give Kofi Annan the space and time to develop his recommendations. We have the highest respect for him. He has a proven track record of bringing parties to resolution. So our goal is to listen to him. And if he comes back with a slightly different formulation that we think will work, we’re going to be very respectful of that.
Thank you very much.

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Remarks at the United Nations Security Council

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City, DC
March 12, 2012

Thank you very much Foreign Secretary Hague for calling us together. Secretary General, thank you very much for your leadership.Today, we gather to discuss the wave of change that has swept the Middle East and North Africa. While each country’s experience has been unique, all of these democratic movements have sprung from a common desire for rights, freedom, economic hope, and human dignity. These universal aspirations are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the UN Charter, and they are fundamental to my country’s identity and history and to those of many countries. These principles – and the people who struggle to realize them in their own societies – deserve and demand our collective support. We are inspired by the courage of the people of the region, as they have shown their determination to move forward, and we believe that their efforts should be supported.

Now I approach these conversations with a healthy dose of humility, because we know that these revolutions are not ours. They are not by us, for us, or against us. But we also know that, as an international community, we do have the resources and capabilities to support those who seek peaceful, meaningful, democratic change. We must also have the will.

Now of course, change is unfolding in different ways in different places, and in each unique case, our tools have to be matched with the circumstances. Here at the UN Security Council, three cases in particular demand our attention today.

Let me start with Libya and the encouraging vote this morning to renew and update the UN Support Mission in Libya, UNSMIL. Last year, this council – backed by the Arab League and countries around the world – acted to support the Libyan people at the hour of their greatest need. Today’s vote reflects our continued commitment to Libya and its transitional government, which has made tremendous strides. And it also reflects the recognition that our work is not yet done.

We will continue to aid UNSMIL’s efforts to support the Libyan Government as it reintegrates those who took up arms in the name of change into a professional national army and a peaceful society. We will continue helping Libya secure its borders against proliferation, trafficking, and extremism, while treating refugees and migrants humanely. And after so much courage and sacrifice from the Libyan people, we are proud to help Libya build a new foundation for the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Just last week, Prime Minister al-Keeb was here in the Security Council, where he forcefully and eloquently defended this Security Council’s assistance on behalf of the aspirations of the Libyan people to chart their own futures. I don’t think there’s any additional comment any of us need to add to the record as to the appropriate measures taken by the Security Council in furtherance of the resolutions so authorizing action. We also met with Prime Minister al-Keeb in Washington, where we discussed Libya’s progress in paving the way for fair and free elections, as well as our work together on security, student exchanges, civil society, and medical care for Libya’s war-wounded. Ultimately, the measure of success for Libya will not be the death of a dictator but the birth of a successful, stable, and free nation.

The second case is Yemen. As Yemen unraveled into violence last year, this Security Council stood behind the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemeni stakeholders to find a peaceful solution. In the face of setbacks, we held firm. Now many challenges lie ahead. But last month’s successful presidential election and inauguration were promising steps on the path toward a new, democratic chapter in Yemen’s history. As Yemen continues its multiyear transition, reforms its constitution, convenes a national dialogue, and continues to grapple with its security and humanitarian challenges, we must remain engaged and supportive.

The third case is Syria. Five weeks ago, this council was unable to stand united against the horrific campaign of violence that has shocked the conscience of the world, one that continues unabated as we meet. We were blocked from even condemning the violence and endorsing a peaceful plan developed by Syria’s own neighbors.

Now the United States believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member-states, but we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense. How cynical that even as Assad was receiving former Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Syrian army was conducting a fresh assault on Idlib and continuing its aggression in Hama, Homs, and Rastan.

We took note of the fact that this past weekend in Cairo the Arab League and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed on the necessity of an end to violence, full, unimpeded humanitarian access, and a political process led by Kofi Annan and based on the terms of the Arab League and the United Nations General Assembly resolutions. We believe that now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League. The international community should say with one voice – without hesitation or caveat – that the killings of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin.

The Syrian people deserve the same opportunity to shape their future that the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, and Yemenis now enjoy. And our work here at the Security Council is just one part of what the international community must do to assist democratic transitions all across the Middle East and North Africa. We must support calls from within the region to strengthen each of the building blocks of stable, thriving societies: a responsive, accountable government; an energetic, effective economy; and a vibrant civil society.

Politically, many countries —including a number at this table –have unique, firsthand expertise in how to build durable democracies. And I appreciate the comments of the foreign minister of Guatemala. These are lessons we can and should share. Where countries are making gradual reforms, we should offer our support and everywhere we must safeguard, in word and action, the basic principles of democracy and universal human rights.

Now, I know that today there are those who question whether Islamist politics can really be compatible with these democratic and universal principles and rights. The people of the Arab Spring have a chance to answer that question.

Our policy is to focus less on what parties call themselves than on what they choose to do. All political parties – religious and secular alike – have a responsibility to their people to abide by the basic tenets upon which this body is founded: to reject violence; to uphold the rule of law; to respect the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly; to safeguard religious freedom and tolerance; to protect the rights of women and minorities; to establish independent judiciaries; to promote a free press; to give up power if defeated at the polls; and to avoid inciting conflicts that pull societies apart. These are standards against which we should all be measured, and we need to commit to uphold them together.

Our experience elsewhere in the world has taught us that successful political transitions are those that quickly deliver economic results—job opportunities and the hope for a better future. To succeed, the Arab political awakening must also be an economic awakening.

Governments across the region who share these priorities will need to keep making the sometimes difficult policy choices required to build a foundation for inclusive, private sector-led growth. As this year’s G-8 president, America is continuing the work of the Deauville Partnership started by France to promote regional integration, economic participation, job creation, and stabilization. The last of these is especially pressing: the international community must provide strong support for the IMF to quickly conclude an economic reform and stabilization program with Egypt. And we call on Egypt’s friends in the region and around the world to be prepared to use bilateral assistance to reinforce an IMF program with Egypt.

And of course, these efforts, economic and political, must include women. And I thank the Secretary General for making that one of the five points he recited. No transition can succeed with half the population left behind.

And durable democracy depends on civil society, and we are proud to support individuals and organizations seeking to improve their own societies. Now, I know again there are those who say the whole concept of civil society is a Western imposition. But after 2011, how can anyone honestly say that civil society is not indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa – and I would add everywhere?

We know that lasting change comes from within. Societies must be the authors of their own futures. But the international community can provide tools that help societies reach those goals. As new, elected legislatures abolish old laws intended to control civil liberties, we should continue our collective support for measures that will protect and nurture civil society, consistent with international human rights norms of free association, assembly, and expression.

No one in the region is exempt from the demands for change we have seen. When a country like Iran claims to champion these principles in the region—and then brutally suppresses its own people and supports suppression in Syria and other places—their hypocrisy is clear to all.

And President Obama and I have been consistent in our belief that the Palestinian people—like their Arab neighbors, Israelis, and all people—deserve dignity, liberty, and the right to decide their own futures. They deserve a viable, independent Palestine, alongside a secure Israel. And we know from decades in the diplomatic trenches that the only way to get there is through a negotiated peace—one that cannot be dictated from outside and one we will continue to pursue through every productive avenue, including a Quartet consultation this morning.

And let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel which continued over the weekend. We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these attacks. We call on both sides – all sides – to make every effort to restore calm.

Finally, and crucially, we have to recognize that the most consequential choices are the ones that will be faced in the months ahead. It is up to the people and leaders of the region to resist the calls of demagogues, to compromise and build coalitions, to keep faith in their system even when they lose at the polls, and to protect the principles and institutions that ultimately will protect them. Every democracy has to guard against those who would hijack its freedoms for their own ignoble ends.

Building prosperous, democratic societies is not the job of a day, a week, or even a year. It is a continuous commitment, and one we share. We, as a community of nations, must help the people of the Middle East and North Africa make the most of the rights and freedoms for which they have risked so much.

Thank you.

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Public Schedule for March 12, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
March 12, 2012

 


SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

8:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton participates in Quartet Consultations, at the United Nations in New York City.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY THE UN)

9:40 a.m. Secretary Clinton participates in a United Nations Security Council session chaired by the UK, at the United Nations in New York City
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY THE UN)

12:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the P+3 representatives, at the United Nations in New York City.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY THE UK)

12:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the United Nations in New York City.
(POOL CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)

TBD PM Secretary Clinton appears before the press at the United Nations in New York City.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

1:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton attends a lunch hosted by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, in New York City.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY THE UK)

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Remarks at the United Nations

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
January 31, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon.

I think we saw once again the deep concern that the international community has over the situation in Syria and the determination to act, to try to bring an end to the killing and terrible abuses that is ongoing. We will have a concerted effort over the next days to reach agreement in the Security Council to put forth a resolution that sends a message to President Assad and his regime. I think it was made abundantly clear that the Arab League has played an essential leadership role, and we want to support the Arab League’s position, and we want to underscore that there is no intention to seek any authority or to pursue any kind of military intervention.

This is a crisis that should be resolved peacefully. In order to do that, the United States believes that President Assad should step away and permit others to begin the process of negotiating a political transition that will lead to elections and the fulfillment of the aspirations and universal human rights of the Syrian people.

So I am pleased at the statements that were made. And even those who have some concerns said today that they understand the need to act and that we do have to support what the Arab League has worked so hard to achieve. I think that’s the right position, and now the hard work about how to translate that into a resolution goes forward.

I’ll take two questions.

QUESTION: Secretary, if the Russians go ahead and block it, what options does the United —

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know what? We’re not – we’re going to be just working over the next two days very diligently to follow up on this extraordinary Security Council session, and I’m not prepared to anticipate what is going to be the outcome.

QUESTION: If I could try and follow up on that. I think you left no hint today – between your comments, the foreign secretary’s comments, and Foreign Minister Juppe’s comments, taken with a very tough statement by Ambassador Rice yesterday – that you think Russia is blocking movement by the Council. And over the last 48 hours, Foreign Minister Lavrov has publicly said that he doesn’t want to talk to you because he’s busy in Australia, and so clearly he’s skirting serious discussion with you directly on this issue.

So what is all this chest beating here at the United Nations for if at the end of the day, the Russians aren’t going to meaningfully work towards a solution? Or are you concerned that you’ll have to water down this resolution so much that it doesn’t take into the spirit of the Arab League report that you endorse?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Elise, I am going to be speaking with Sergey Lavrov. He is traveling in Australia. I’ve actually traveled in Australia. It is sometimes difficult to make connections. I don’t think anyone should read anything into that. I think what’s important is the resolve that has been demonstrated so clearly today by the Arab League and by a majority of the members of the Security Council that action is called for. There was a repeating of the chronology, starting with the presidential statement back in August, and the numbers of deaths continue to rise. So this is not sustainable. We have to make a very clear statement from the Security Council supporting the Arab League’s leadership and calling for a path forward that will be followed by the Assad regime.

And obviously, the United States and I personally care deeply about what is happening in Syria. I also understand some of the doubts and concerns of the Syrian people, which I addressed directly today in my statement. If this were easy, it would have already been done. There are a lot of issues and concerns that have to be addressed.

But at the end of the day, every member of that Security Council has a choice to make. If you do not choose to try to stand on the side of the Syrian people, then you are standing on the side of the continuing killing and abuses that are carried out every single day. I know what side we’re on. I know what side the majority of the Council is on, and we will work until we can find a way to usefully support the Arab League’s initiative, send a clear message to the Assad regime and the people of Syria, and then work toward a peaceful resolution of this terrible conflict.

Thank you.

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Remarks at a United Nations Security Council Session on the Situation in Syria

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
January 31, 2012

Thank you very much, Mr. President, and let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim and Secretary General el Araby for their thorough briefing.

The Arab League has demonstrated important leadership in this crisis.  And for many months, the people of the region and the world have watched in horror as the Assad regime executed a campaign of violence against its own citizens.  Civilians gunned down in the streets, women and children tortured and killed.  No one is safe, not even officials of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.  According to UN estimates, more than 5,400 civilians have already died, and that number is rising fast.

The regime also continues to arbitrarily detain Syrian citizens, such as the activists Yahia al-Shurbaji and Anas al-Shaghri, simply for demanding dignity and universal rights.  To date, the evidence is clear that Assad’s forces are initiating nearly all of the attacks that kill civilians, but as more citizens take up arms to resist the regime’s brutality, violence is increasingly likely to spiral out of control.  Already, the challenges ahead for the Syrian people are daunting – a crumbling economy, rising sectarian tensions, a cauldron of instability in the heart of the Middle East.

Now, fears about what follows Assad, especially among Syria’s minority communities, are understandable.  Indeed, it appears as though Assad and his cronies are working hard to pit Syria’s ethnic and religious groups against each other, risking greater sectarian violence and even descent into civil war.

So in response to this violent crackdown on peaceful dissent and protest, the Arab League launched an unprecedented diplomatic intervention, sending monitors into Syria’s beleaguered cities and towns and offering President Assad many chances to change course.  These observers were greeted by thousands of protestors eager to share their aspirations for their universal rights and also the stories of what had befallen them and their families.  But as the Arab League report makes clear if you read the entire report, the regime did not respect its pledges or the presence of the monitors, and instead responded with excessive and escalating violence.

Now, in the past few days, the regime’s security forces have intensified their assault, shelling civilian areas in Homs and other cities.  And this weekend, the Arab League suspended its monitoring mission, pointing to the regime’s intransigence and the mounting civilian casualties.

So why is the Arab League here before this Security Council?  Because they are seeking the support of the international community for a negotiated, peaceful political solution to this crisis and a responsible, democratic transition in Syria.  And we all have a choice:  Stand with the people of Syria and the region or become complicit in the continuing violence there.

The United States urges the Security Council to back the Arab League’s demand that the Syrian Government immediately stop all attacks against civilians and guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations.   In accordance with the Arab League’s plan, Syria must also release all arbitrarily detained citizens, return its military and security forces to their barracks, allow full and unhindered access for monitors, humanitarian workers, and journalists.

And we urge the Security Council to back the Arab League’s call for an inclusive, Syrian-led political process to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people, conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation, and extremism.

Now, I know that some members here may be concerned that the Security Council could be headed toward another Libya.  That is a false analogy.  Syria is a unique situation that requires its own approach, tailored to the specific circumstances occurring there.  And that is exactly what the Arab League has proposed – a path for a political transition that would preserve Syria’s unity and institutions.

Now, this may not be exactly the plan that any of us ourselves would have designed.  I know that many nations feel that way.  But it represents the best effects and efforts of Syria’s neighbors to chart a way forward, and it deserves a chance to work.

I think it would be a mistake to minimize or understate the magnitude of the challenge that Syrians face in trying to build the rule of law and civil society on the ruins of a brutal and failed dictatorship.  This will be hard.  The results are far from certain.  Success is far from guaranteed.  But the alternative – more of Assad’s brutal rule – is no alternative at all.

We all know that change is coming to Syria.  Despite its ruthless tactics, the Assad regime’s reign of terror will end and the people of Syria will have the chance to chart their own destiny. The question for us is:  How many more innocent civilians will die before this country is able to move forward toward the kind of future it deserves?  Unfortunately, it appears as though the longer this continues, the harder it will be to rebuild once President Assad and his regime is transitioned and something new and better takes its place.

Citizens inside and outside Syria have begun planning for a democratic transition, from the Syrian National Council to the courageous grassroots local councils across the country who are organizing under the most dangerous and difficult circumstances.  But every day that goes by, their task grows more difficult.

The future of Syria as a strong and unified nation depends on thwarting a cynical divide-and-conquer strategy.  It will take all Syrians working together – Alawis and Christians hand-in-hand with Sunni and Druze, side-by-side Arabs and  Kurds – to ensure that the new Syria is governed by the rule of law, respects and protects the universal rights of every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or sect, and takes on the widespread corruption that has marked the Assad regime.

For this to work, Syria’s minorities will have to join in shaping Syria’s future, and their rights and their voices will have to be heard, protected, and respected.  And let me say directly to them today:  We do hear your fears and we do honor your aspirations.  Do not let the current regime exploit them to extend this crisis.

And leaders of Syria’s business community, military, and other institutions will have to recognize that their futures lie with the state and not the regime.  Syria belongs to its 23 million citizens, not to one man or his family.  And change can still be accomplished without dismantling the state or producing new tyranny.

It is time for the international community to put aside our own differences and send a clear message of support to the people of Syria.  The alternative – spurning the Arab League, abandoning the Syrian people, emboldening the dictator – would compound this tragedy, and would mark a failure of our shared responsibility, and shake the credibility of the United Nations Security Council.

The United States stands ready to work with every member in this chamber to pass a resolution that supports the Arab League’s efforts, because those are the efforts that are well thought out, and focused on ending this crisis, upholds the rights of the Syrian people, and restores peace to Syria.

That is the goal of the Arab League, that should be the goal of this Council, to help the Syrian people realize the goal of the future that they seek.  Thank you.

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Sharp Escalation of Regime Violence in Syria

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 30, 2012

 


The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalation of the Syrian regime’s violent and brutal attacks on its own people. In the past few days we have seen intensified Syrian security operations all around the country which have killed hundreds of civilians. The government has shelled civilian areas with mortars and tank fire and brought down whole buildings on top of their occupants. The violence has escalated to the point that the Arab League has had to suspend its monitoring mission. The regime has failed to meet its commitments to the Arab League to halt its acts of violence, withdraw its military forces from residential areas, allow journalists and monitors to operate freely and release prisoners arrested because of the current unrest.

The Security Council must act and make clear to the Syrian regime that the world community views its actions as a threat to peace and security. The violence must end, so that a new period of democratic transition can begin.

Tomorrow, I will attend a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria where the international community should send a clear message of support to the Syrian people: we stand with you. The Arab League is backing a resolution that calls on the international community to support its ongoing efforts, because the status quo is unsustainable. The longer the Assad regime continues its attacks on the Syrian people and stands in the way of a peaceful transition, the greater the concern that instability will escalate and spill over throughout the region.

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