May 11, 2011
Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., unveiled on Wednesday a 10-page, nonbinding resolution “expressing support for peaceful demonstrations and universal freedoms in Syria and condemning the human rights violations by the Assad Regime.”
The bipartisan measure calls for the Obama Administration to do more to oppose the brutal crackdown on political protestors in the Middle Eastern nation.
“I know that there are some who are concerned about what will happen if (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad fails, but there simply cannot be a successor to Bashar al-Assad that is anywhere near as bad as he is,” said Lieberman, calling anything to the contrary “strategic and moral nonsense.”
The resolution accuses Bashar al-Assad of “launching a violent crackdown, committing human rights abuses, and violating its international obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” It warns “that international crimes are being committed by the Government of Syria against its people, for which the responsible officials must be held accountable.”
And though the document “commends President Obama for authorizing targeted sanctions on human rights abusers in Syria,” it goes on to urge the president “to act swiftly to expand the list of sanctioned persons to include all individuals responsible for gross human rights abuses in Syria, including Bashar al-Assad” and “to speak out directly, and personally, to the people of Syria about the situation in their country.”
“For a long time, Bashar al-Assad has had the blood of Americans on his hands,” McCain said. “It’s time we indicted the guy who’s giving the orders. And it’s time for the President of the United States to speak up forcefully and frequently.”
On April 29, 2011, the Administration authorized targeted sanctions against a number of Syrian officials for human rights abuses in that country.
The senators list a number of actions they would like to see carried out by the president, including working to ensure the Syrian people have access to medical aid, human rights organizations, accurate media, and more.
Senators want the president “to work with our allies and partners at the United Nations Security Council to condemn and hold accountable human rights abusers in Syria and to support the human rights of the people of Syria.”
Lawmakers do not stop with Syria in their resolution, however, condemning Iran’s government for “providing material support to assist the Government of Syria in its efforts to suppress peaceful protestors, including the transfer of equipment to help security forces crack down on protests and curtail and monitor protesters’ use of the Internet, cell phones, and text-messaging.”
The resolution has gained significant bipartisan support among senior members in the chamber, Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham, R-SC, an Air Force Reserves military lawyer; several members of GOP leadership, like Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas, and John Barrasso of Wyoming. Five Democrats round out the list, including Foreign Relations Committee members Bob Menendez, D-NJ, Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Chris Coons of Delaware.
It is unclear, however, if the measure will be brought up for a vote. So far, the Senate has yet to consider resolutions related to Libya, aside from one introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in the midst of an unrelated bill. Leadership on both sides of the aisle, at the time, said it was too early for such a measure but that the chamber would consider resolutions at a later date.