August 23, 2011 | Quote

U.S. Joins Calls for Syria’s Bashar Assad to Resign

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Obama's statement is a late-in-coming step but gives U.S. allies, the Syrian opposition and “fence-sitters” a clear message that Assad's days are numbered.

“Now everybody knows what the objective is,” he said. Badran said Obama should lean on Europe to impose sanctions. Syria exports 95% of its oil and gas to primarily Germany, Italy and France, he said. Turkey could also apply pressure by preventing Syria from using the country as a transit point for truck shipments to the Gulf of Arabia and Jordan.

Sanctions would weaken the regime's ability to finance military operations, undermine the business community that would support Assad and “plant the seeds of doubt” among even military leaders, Badran said.

Obama's latest position also marks a major change in his Middle East policy, Badran said. Since it came into office the Obama administration assumed Assad was a reformer who would help broker peace talks with Israel and sway Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

“Clearly the Syrian uprising has shown how erroneous this entire set of assumptions has been,” he said. “The whole policy he came into office with needs revision from top to bottom.”