The Syrian civil war began as protesters toppled governments across North Africa in the so-called “Arab Spring.” Washington has insisted on regime change in Damascus ever since, yet their rhetoric adapted over the years.

President Ben Ali of Tunisia was ousted in January, followed by protests demanding the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and an armed rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. A “Day of Rage” protest in Damascus and Aleppo on March 15, 2011 is commonly considered the start of the Syrian civil war. Protests escalated into an armed rebellion by July, after NATO warplanes intervened in Libya on behalf of the rebels

Map of Syria
Image: wikipedia

2011: ‘Peaceful transition,’ guns, and roses

President Barack Obama made the first call for regime change in Damascus in August 2011.

“The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples’ pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy,” Obama said.“They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality.”

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way,” Obama declared. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Bashar Assad became president of Syria in 2000, after the death of his father Hafez, who had run the country since 1971. Bashar had been an eye doctor living in the UK when his elder brother was killed in a car wreck in 1994.

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