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Public Statements

Assad Must Go

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, the outrages perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his own people have laid bare his regime's total lack of legitimacy. The shelling of Homs evokes memories of the 1982 massacre at Hama, in which his father ordered the Syrian army into the rebellious city, killing up to 40,000 people.

After the elder Assad died in 2000, the new president, in interviews with western journalists, made several cautious statements that led many Syrians to believe that the new President would be willing to take at least the first steps towards democracy in their ancient land. Indeed, the first months of the new regime saw a period of intense political and social debate in Syria, which continued to some degree until the fall of 2001, when the government sharply reversed course and ended what had become known as the Damascus Spring.

Similarly, tentative Syrian cooperation in the months after 9/11 did not last, and in 2005, Syrian intelligence officers joined with Hezbollah in murdering Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and provoking a war with Israel in the summer of 2006.

Now the Assad regime has turned on its own people who have been inspired by their fellow Arabs in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.

We in Congress must use every diplomatic and economic tool to end this dictatorship. And I urge President Obama to support the Syrian people in their quest for an end to the corruption and brutality of the Assad regime.

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