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 US lawmakers urge support for Syrian opposition

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US lawmakers urge support for Syrian opposition  31.3.2011   

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March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, US President Barack Obama should abandon his policy of engaging Syria and stand foursquare behind opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, lawmakers urged Wednesday.

Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said Obama's effort to engage rather than shun Damascus had "little to show for it" and declared it was time to back protesters against Assad's rule.

"A new Syria strategy is now needed -- one that aligns the United States with the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people for their future," said the senators.

"We also urge the administration to work with members of the international community to make clear to President Assad that if he continues on the path of repression and violence, it will carry serious consequences," they said.                   

US Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain. march 8, 2011 Photo: Getty Images.
McCain, who is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, praised the Obama administration for condemning Assad's crackdown on protests and said Washington must "continue to speak out loudly and clearly" against Assad's regime.

"The United States must stand unambiguously with the Syrian people at this pivotal moment," they said.

Number-two Republican Senator Jon Kyl, a fierce critic of Obama's efforts to engage Syria, said Washington should call for Assad to step down and called for US Ambassador Robert Ford to "investigate" attacks on protesters.

Kyl also blasted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for saying recently that lawmakers who visited Syria recently had described Assad as a "reformer."

Kyl accused Assad of "affronts to the vital national security interest of the United States," citing Syrian activities in Lebanon, alleged cooperation with North Korea to develop a nuclear program,
www.ekurd.netand support for Hezbollah and Hamas.

"We must learn from our mistakes, and President Obama and the Secretary Clinton must promptly call for Assad to step down and pledge to support the legitimate Syrian opposition," said Kyl.

Over 2 million Kurds live in Syria, mainly in the north bordering Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan region. They comprise nine percent of the population and have long sought official recognition of the Kurdish language and their culture.

Kurds in Syria often speak Kurdish in public, unless all those present do not. Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted. No political parties are allowed for any group, Kurdish or otherwise.

Suppression of ethnic identity of Kurds in Syria include: various bans on the use of the Kurdish language; refusal to register children with Kurdish names; replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in Arabic; prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names; not permitting Kurdish private schools; and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish.

Kurds in Syria also suffer severe discrimination because of their ethnicity. Many of them are denied Syrian nationality and therefore do not receive the full provision of education, employment, health care and other rights enjoyed by Syrian nationals.

Compiled by from agency reports

Copyright , respective author or news agency, AFP | | Agencies


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