Authors: Carmen Cox
(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Clinton Friday urged countries to “get on the right side of history” and stop buying oil and gas from Syria.
“The United States will continue to work with our partners to turn this growing consensus into increased pressure and isolation for the Assad regime. In particular, we urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality to get on the right on the right side of history. President Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead, and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him,” she told reporters after meeting with her Norwegian counterpart.
This comes as the United States is developing energy sanctions that will hit the oil and gas sectors that are a major source of funding for the regime. Senior advisor Fred Hof is in Europe this week rallying support for coordinated sanctions from other countries that would bite more since they have more trade with Syria. When will those sanctions be announced? “Stay tuned,” Clinton said Friday.
In an interview Thursday, Clinton named and shamed a few countries still doing business with Syria.
“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,” she told Scott Pelley.
Clinton’s comments ahead of the actual sanctions are indicative of her incremental approach to the crisis, ratcheting up the pressure slowly rather than using the biggest arrow in the quiver. It’s becoming clear that is also her approach towards calling on Assad to leave power, something the White House has been eager to do.
U.S. officials tell ABC that Turkey and other countries have urged the United States to hold off on demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down.
Some countries, Norway included, have said they won’t call for Assad to step down because there is no clear alternative among the opposition. In that context, Clinton for the second day in a row called on the opposition to organize and come together.
“We and others are reaching out to members of the opposition inside and outside of Syria to encourage them to create a unified vision of what an inclusive, participatory, democratic system in Syria could look like,” she said.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio