Politics

Bipartisan Resolution on Syria Emerges

Two vocal critics of the Obama Administration's handling of the unrest in Syria are planning to introduce a "sense of the Senate" resolution on Wednesday expressing support for the burgeoning democratic movement in the face of a brutal government crackdown by the forces of President Bashir al-Assad.

Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are expected to introduce their nonbinding resolution at an afternoon news conference; both have said they feel the Administration has not acted forcefully enough to condemn the political repression, which has reportedly killed hundreds of Syrians, and to support the peaceful protestors.

Rubio told Fox that the resolution is still being drafted, but, he said, "It will be tough language that encourages a vigorous American diplomatic response."

Earlier Tuesday on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show, Rubio said, "I think we've taken too long. I think the fact that the administration continues to hold out hope that somehow Assad is going to be a reformer is not the right way to go...My hope is that this policy will move quickly on voicing support for those on the ground there in Syria who are trying, in a peaceful way, to bring about change to their country. And I think the world has to be so disappointed, I think, that this administration has not been more forceful in speaking out on behalf of freedom and democracy throughout the region, including places like Bahrain."

The Obama Administration in late April, citing " human rights abuses related to political repression in Syria," imposed sanctions targeted at the leadership of the Syrian government by prohibiting the export and re-export of parts for VIP passenger aircraft.

But a number of senators have said that is not enough.

In a Senate floor speech Friday, Lieberman, who met with Syrian dissidents last week, called for stiffer and broader sanctions that also target Assad. "It is he who is directing his military forces to fire on his own people," the senator said, adding, "He must be held accountable. I respectfully urge President Obama to speak out as soon as possible, directly and personally, about what's happening in Syria. For the moral authority of the President of the United States matters enormously at historic moments like the one in Syria now."

Lieberman also called on the international community to refer Assad to the International Criminal Court for prosecution for human rights abuses, as he called on the president to put to rest the prevalent doubts Lieberman said are in the region that the U.S. "is hedging its bets in Syria."

The senator pleaded, "I hope that the president can make clear, once again, as he did so effectively in the cases of Egypt and Libya, that Bashir al-Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead Syria, and it is time for Bashir to go."