Opinion: Jay Carney again on Syria’s ‘unacceptable behavior’

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President Obama plans another speech on the Middle East this week, on Thursday before a safely respectful crowd at the State Department.

His press secretary Jay Carney says the president will make news, meaning have some new ideas about the old problems festering there. Carney also said the speech was intended to be a broad look at the region in turmoil, not just the Israeli-Palestinian challenges.

Carney was also asked about Syria where pro-democracy protests continue, along with reported government repression. Carney and the president have often warned that country and President Bashar al-Assad about allowing peaceful protests, so far to no effect. (SCroll down for links to those past warnings.)

Here’s today’s Syria exchange from Carney’s regular news media briefing:


Q Just one last one, on Syria. There are now reports of mass graves near the town of Daraa and other places in the country. The death toll is approaching a thousand, depending upon -- some human rights groups are saying that.

As the President looks at this situation and compare it to Libya and other situations, what is the -- how much longer can this go in that direction before there’s a need for some more aggressive response?

Not necessarily militarily, but some kind of response. I know there’s no tripwire, no line in the sand, to use an overused cliché, but how do you -- how does the administration see recent developments, which seem to be going in wrong direction?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we strongly condemn the unacceptable behavior. And we’ve made it clear that the recent events in Syria we believe prove that the country cannot go back to the status quo ante; that Syria’s future will only be secured by a government that reflects the popular will of its people.

The window is narrowing for the Syrian government to shift focus away from repressing its people and towards meeting the legitimate aspirations of its people.

And as I said, we are looking at additional measures that we can take, and we continue to enforce the measures already taken, the longstanding sanctions against Syria and the specific targeted sanctions that we announced recently.

But we remain very concerned about this, and could not be less clear -- I mean, could not be more clear, rather, about our insistence that the Syrian government needs to cease the violence, because the window is narrowing for its opportunity to embrace the demands of its people and work with the Syrian people in peaceful dialogue to respond to their aspirations. ####

Assorted Obama administration warnings:

Again, Obama warns Syria

Now, Obama warns Syria about violence

Yemen president gets stern warning from Obama press secretary

Obama changes mind on causing regime change in Middle East

New Obama warning to Libya: Stop right now

Obama warns Libya and Bahrain

Obama re-warns Libya: ‘The violence must stop’

Enough with warnings, Obama finally sanctions Libya

Obama takes a day off from warnings to praise Algeria, Motown

Next, Obama warns Libya: ‘This violence must stop’

Now, Obama warns Bahrain, Yemen and Libya

Obama warns Egypt’s Mubarak: ‘No going back’

Obama warns Mubarak: ‘Suppressing ideas never makes them go away’