|Date: 27/04/2012 Time: 09:43:00 PM
While it is "indisputable" that the Assad
regime in Syria has failed to keep its commitments to implement the peace plan
offered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the United States continues to
back efforts to implement the plan while ramping up pressure on the regime, a
White House spokesman said on Friday.
Pressed by reporters to acknowledge that new steps must be taken in Syria
to stop the killing, principal deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest
said, "we have frequently noted and condemned and mourned the tragic loss of
innocent life in that country. It is an indication of the dangerous path that
the Assad regime has taken that country down. We are also concerned about the
destabilizing effect that that has throughout the entire region".
US officials have been disappointed in the Assad regime's failure to live
up to promises it made in the context of the Annan plan, Earnest said during a
briefing with reporters traveling aboard Air Force One with President Barack
Obama en route to a presidential speech at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton "have talked about this in recent days, that we intend to
continue to ramp up the international pressure against the Assad regime, and
encourage them in the strongest possible terms to live up to the obligations
and commitments that they made in the context of the Kofi Annan plan," Earnest
They are still making efforts to implement the plan, he noted.
"This administration has expressed in the strongest personal terms our
frustration and disappointment with the Assad regime's utter failure to live
up to the obligations and commitments that they made with the Annan plan,"
Earnest said. "Their failure to do so is indisputable".
Rice and Clinton "are actively engaged in working with our international
partners and consulting with them to continue to ramp up pressure on the Assad
regime to stop the violence against innocent citizens of Syria, and to
encourage them, and to make it clear to them that they have an obligation to
live up to the commitments that they have made," Earnest said.
During a separate briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland
acknowledged that the Annan plan "as a whole is failing thus far. That does
not change the fact that we continue to put the onus on Assad to meet his
commitments, allow these (UN) monitors to come in, allow them to do their job,
and fulfill all of the six points. And that is what the pressure is based on,
and that is what our continued effort to get the monitors in is based on".
US officials "very much support the effort to continue to try to get them
in, but it is incumbent on (Syrian President Basher) Assad to make the
conditions possible on the ground for them to do their work," she said.
Once the monitors arrive in Syria, they need to be able to move wherever
they want to go, speak to whomever they want to speak to, communicate securely
and openly back, both among themselves and with headquarters, Nuland said.
"So there are many issues of concern here, starting with the fact that
Assad has not silenced his guns," she added. "We are going to have to watch
this day by day and see how it goes".
It remains the US assessment that the bulk of the violations of the
cease-fire pledge are coming from the regime side, she said.
There is ample evidence of continued artillery fire, continued attacks and
opposition activists being rounded up the minute that the UN monitors leave a
site, Nuland said.
"There is no question that, as a result of the violence, you have people
trying to defend themselves," she said. "You may have other forces exploiting
the continued instability. But it is still laid at Assad's doorstep that he
has not silenced his guns, and therefore we do not have peace in Syria".
The UN Security Council resolution authorizing the Anna plan has a 90-day
duration, Nuland noted.
"We are all going to have to make a judgment as to whether this is
achieving the objective overall or whether it is actually creating more
difficulty and harm," she said. "Where we are now is to frankly say that it is
not meeting its objectives, but to put the responsibility for that at the feet
of Assad, to continue to pressure him, and to continue to encourage the UN to
do what it can do deploy monitors, and as we have more, to see what happens".
The concern is if there is violence against monitors, if there is more
retribution and assaults on populations after the monitors have been in
places, and if Assad draws the wrong conclusions "that rather than
implementing his commitments, he can play some kind of a game," Nuland said.