Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Obama to Syria: No 'Messing With Our Embassy'

President Obama channeled his inner Theodore Roosevelt today, threatening Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad with the big stick if his regime's goon squads ever mess with the U.S. embassy in Damascus again.

"We've been very clear that what we've seen on the part of the Syrian regime has been an unacceptable degree of brutality, directed at its people," Obama said in an interview with the CBS Evening News.

"We've certainly sent a clear message that nobody can be messing with our embassy. And that we will take whatever actions necessary in order to protect our embassy. And I think they've gotten that message," Obama added.

The statement came a day after mobs breached the U.S. and French embassies in the Syrian capital and vandalized the buildings before being chased off by armed guards at both facilities. Three people sustained minor injuries at the French embassy, but staff at the U.S. diplomatic compound were unhurt.

The U.S. blamed the regime for, at the least, allowing the angry crowds to storm those facilities, but did not stop short of suggesting that Assad's government incited the violent protests. The incident highlighted how out of touch Assad and his supporters are amid growing global discontent over their behavior.

"I think that increasingly you're seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people. And that's why we've been working at an international level, to make sure that we keep the pressure up -- to see if we can bring some real change in Syria," Obama said.
Obama's tough talk came the same day that the United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks on the French and U.S. embassies in Syria. The Security Council "condemned in the strongest terms the attacks against embassies in the Syrian capital, Damascus," according to a U.N. statement.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari insisted today that the French and Americans were exaggerating details of the mob attacks in Damascus, claiming Syrian authorities "made every effort to ensure the safety of those embassies."

The U.S. and France believe the attacks were payback for their ambassadors showing their support last week for pro-democracy, anti-Assad demonstrators. Both countries have indicated their diplomats will continue to side with the Arab Spring freedom movement, despite the failed attempt at intimidation.

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