Washington, May 19: After President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his six deputies, the US appears to have given ultimatum to him to either leave or lead the transition to democracy, a senior Obama Administration officials has said.
"President Assad has a clear choice: its either lead this transition to democracy, or to leave," said a senior Administration official, requesting anonymity.
And this is the message that has been conveyed to the Assad regime, even though the Obama Administration has not gone public with this strong message, he said.
Assad himself, who was singled out for sanctions today, must put an end to the attacks on the protestors, the mass arrests and harassment of those who are demonstrating – the activists, the scholars, the students, the journalists who are seeking to express their rights.
"He must begin to introduce democratic change in Syria," the official said.
Strongly condemning the Syrian government's use of violence and intimidation against its people, the official said "the recent events in Syria, especially over the last week or so, really make it clear that the country cannot go back to the way it was before."
There is a political transition underway in Syria and that transition must lead to a more democratic and representative government and one that respects the universal rights of its people, the official noted.
The executive order signed by Obama in this regard, slapping sanctions on the Syrian regime, are intended to send an unequivocal message to the Syrian leadership and to President Assad in particular, that it will be held accountable for the violence and repression for which it's responsible, the official said.
"President al-Assad and senior government officials around him must immediately end the violence, respect the universal rights of the Syrian citizens, and lead a transition to a more democratic and representative government in Syria," the official asserted.
The actions taken by the Obama Administration, the official said "is designed to put pressure on the Syrian government, including President Assad to change course, to end the violence, respect the rights of his citizens and to lead to a more democratic and representative government.
However, the official was non-committal if the US would support a Libya type operation in Syria.