Secretary Clinton Answers Questions about Syria

Rabat, Morocco

Interview With Samira Sitail of 2M

QUESTION: I said earlier that you were in Nigeria, but before that, you were in Tunisia for – you took part in the meeting of the Friends of Syria. You stated that the Syrian regime will pay the price, the higher price, if it continues to ignore the voice of international community. In concrete terms, what do you mean by pay the higher price?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the regime will fall. I think that – I am not a fortuneteller. I cannot tell you when that will happen. But the Syrian army, which is largely a conscript army, is not going to continue to carry out these brutal assaults on the Syrian people. At some point, the defections will build, there will finally be created enough momentum against the regime from not only the security forces but business leaders, minorities who are worried about what’s happening. So it will happen. It’s just a question of when, and I wish it would happen sooner instead of later so that the killing could stop.

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR

QUESTION: Turning to Syria, Syrian tanks have been battering Homs. There’s no sign of aid getting in. What do you and the Friends of Syria do now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, as I’ve said, we have to continue to consult with those who truly are Friends of the Syrian People, which of course, includes the United States and the many governments and organizations that gathered in Tunis on Friday. We are doing everything we can to facilitate humanitarian aid. It was distressing to hear that the Syrian Red Crescent and the ICRC, after many hours of negotiation just yesterday, were not permitted to go back into Homs. We are looking to set up and stage areas for getting humanitarian aid in. Secondly, we continue to ratchet up the pressure. It is an increasingly isolated regime. And third, we push for a democratic transition by working with and trying to build up the opposition so they can be an alternative.

QUESTION: But there’s – there was a lot of talk about – and controversy about whether you arm the opposition, help them get arms. Is there anything the U.S. can do short of that, I mean, logistical support for the Free Syrian Army, satellite images to help them set up these humanitarian corridors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they don’t have tanks and they don’t have artillery. So I know there’s a lot of frustration, and I share it. This is a deeply, deeply distressing set of events. But you have one of the most highly militarized, best-defended countries on earth, because, of course, they spent an enormous amount of money with their Iranian and Russian friends so equipping themselves. And even if you were to somehow smuggle in automatic weapons of some kind, you’re not going to be very successful against tanks. And so the dilemma is how do we try to help people defend themselves? How do we push the Russians, Chinese, and others, who are, in effect, defending and deflecting for the Assad regime, to realize that this is undermining not only Assad’s legitimacy but theirs as well?

Interview With Elise Labott of CNN

QUESTION: What are you – how far are you prepared to go to get this aid in? I mean, the shame tactic, it doesn’t seem to be working. And today – and Russian state paper Pravda is calling you the despicable one. I mean, how are you going to get that aid in if they won’t – if President Asssad won’t do it and the Russians won’t pressure him to do it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that that speaks for itself. I think that the Syrian people themselves need to start acting on behalf of their fellow Syrians. Where are the people inside Syria who are going to demand that men, women, and children cannot be assaulted and left to die, given no medical care, no food, no water. And look, I think that Russia has a commercial relationship, ideological relationship with Syria. It’s made its decision to stand on their side.

Interview With Wyatt Andrews of CBS

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. Let’s get right to Syria, please. I know and respect that you think the Friends of Syria Conference on Friday was a success. But the shelling continues. I don’t think we have any evidence that humanitarian aid is going in as the conference demanded. So on what level exactly was the conference a success?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Wyatt, perhaps I take a longer view than some in looking at the way that, again, the Arab League has led, which has been one of the most remarkable developments in the last year that they would take positions against fellow Arab nations on behalf of the aspirations that we all hold for the Arab Spring. The fact that so many other countries were present and all speaking with one voice – this is not to be, I think, diminished in terms of its importance. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t deeply distressed by what has continued.

QUESTION: When I go back to the plight of the folks being shelled and who are very plaintive in their requests of the international community to be stronger, the question is: How long does the killing go on before the additional measures you’re talking about kick in?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, Wyatt, if you take just a moment to imagine all the terrible conflicts that go on in the world, we have seen in the last 15 years millions of people killed in the Eastern Congo in the most brutal, terrible, despicable ways. It wasn’t on TV. There were no Skype-ing from the jungles that were the killing fields. And I could point to many other places where governments oppress people, where governments are turning against their own people. And you have to be very clear-eyed about what is possible and what the consequences of anything you might wish to do could be.

I am incredibly sympathetic to the calls that somebody do something. But it is also important to stop and ask what that is and who’s going to do it and how capable anybody is of doing it. And I like to get to the second, third, and fourth order questions, and those are very difficult ones.

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