British, French and Italian leaders say they will apply economic pressure against Syria if President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t end the violence against demonstrators. British Foreign Secretary William Hague, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have all issued warnings.
The death toll in Syria now stands at more than 400 anti-government protesters killed by Assad’s regime since mid-March, and he has shown willingness to step up the repression. With NATO deepening its military role in Libya by the day, journalists and human rights groups are urging the world to pay attention to Syria also. They hope to battle public attention fatigue as pro-democracy movements continue to sweep the Middle East and Africa. —KDG
The Washington Post:
The influencial Paris newspaper Le Monde also pointed out the apparent incongruity in the policies of France and other Western countries. “We tolerate in Damascus what we condemned in Tripoli,” the paper said in a front-page editorial. “This indulgence is no longer possible. As Daraa is martyred, we must isolate and sanction the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”
Responding to the criticism, Sarkozy denied that there were inconsistencies in his policies. He pointed out that the two situations were not identical, but he then did not rule out taking action in Syria, according to news service accounts from Rome.
“That does not mean that we are going to intervene everywhere in the world,” he said. “There is no question of anything as long as there is no Security Council resolution.”