On Thursday, the United States took further steps to work toward putting an end to the Syrian government’s violence against its people. President Barack Obama called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, and issued an executive order instituting harsh, new financial sanctions against the country.
“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
According to a fact sheet issued by the White House, the executive order signed by Obama “blocks the property of the Syrian government, bans U.S. persons from new investments in or exporting services to Syria, and bans U.S. imports of, and other transactions or dealings in, Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products,” and is the strongest financial action taken against the country buy the U.S. to date.
In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that European Union leaders also called on Assad to step down Thursday, just minutes after Obama’s announcement was made.