Seeking a regime change in Syria, President Barack Obama on Thursday ruled out any unilateral American action against the Bashar Assad regime, but pledged support to international partners and Syrian opposition to meet the goal.
“This is an international problem. It is very much my hope to continue to work with all the various parties involved, to find a solution that brings peace to Syria, stabilises the region, stabilises those chemical weapons,” Mr. Obama said in a joint news conference with visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“But it’s not going to be something that the United States does by itself. I don’t think anybody in the region, including the Prime Minister, would think that US unilateral actions in and of themselves would bring about a better outcome inside of Syria,” Mr. Obama
Mr. Obama said the U.S. and the international community needs to continue to strengthen the capacity of the Syrian opposition that are on the ground fighting to protect themselves from the Assad regime.
Taking a cautious line, Mr. Obama stressed on continuing to mobilise the international community to put more pressure on Mr. Assad so that he recognises that he is no longer legitimate and that he needs to go.
He also expressed hope that the United States and Russia would succeed in arranging an international peace conference on Syria next month.
“With respect to what I’ve said in the past around red lines — what I’ve said is that the use of chemical weapons are something that the civilised world has recognised should be out of bounds,” he said.
“And as we gather more evidence and work together, my intention is to make sure that we’re presenting everything that we know to the international community as an additional reason, an additional mechanism, for the international community to put all the pressure that they can on the Assad regime, and to work with the opposition to bring about that political transition,” Mr. Obama said in response to a question.
“Our goal is to see the tyranny, the dictatorship go away in Syria and to be replaced with democracy. And I think this is a collective responsibility on the part of all countries that believe in democracy. And this is what we will all continue to do,” said Mr. Erdogan, who has backed rebels against the Syrian regime. Syria in fact was on top of the agenda of the U.S.-Turkey summit.
“While we discussed Syria, we talked about what has happened so far and we talked about what can be done in the future. Ending this bloody process in Syria and meeting the legitimate demands of the people by establishing a new government are two areas where we are in full agreement with the United States,” he said.
“Supporting the opposition and Assad leaving are important issues. We also agree that we have to prevent Syria from becoming an area for terrorist organizations. We also agreed that chemical weapons should not be used, and all minorities and their rights should be secured,” he said.