U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the U.S. would back the use of force if violence against civilians did not cease.
Speaking to the Friends of Syria group in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning, Geithner also urged the Arab League to adopt a comprehensive sanctions policy toward the Assad regime.
"We, the United States, hope that all responsible countries will soon join in taking appropriate economic actions against the Syrian regime, including, if necessary, Chapter 7 action in the UN Security Council, as called for by the Arab League last weekend," Geithner told the assembled representatives.
Chapter 7 allows for the UN to "to take urgent military measures...to maintain or restore international peace and security." The measures can span from "demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces" to "combined international enforcement action."
If international enforcement action is warranted, the UN will set up a Military Council to decide the scope and breadth of the steps taken.
Geithner's comments further bolster remarks Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi made on June 2nd urging the international community "to move quickly to end all acts of violence in Syria, and to take the necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians."
"We demand the U.N. Security Council refer the six-point (Annan plan) to Chapter 7 so that the international community could assume responsibilities," Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani added.
Flanked by the Qatari and Turkish representatives, the Treasury Secretary also urged the Arab League to adopt "for the first time in its history, a strong set of economic sanctions," and, in a remark to Russia, who continues to supply arms to Assad's regime, added, "there can be no justification for facilitating the sale of arms to the Assad regime."
Geithner's remarks came the same day as state television reported Assad named staunch loyalist Riad Hijab as his new Prime Minister.
Hijab's first task will be to form a government in the violence-torn country where more than 10,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and pro-democracy protesters backed by Army deserters.
The Assad regime also announced today it would allow humanitarian workers and supplies in the four cities worst affected by the current wave of violence.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported access had been granted to workers from the World Food Program and eight other U.N. agencies as well as seven NGOs.
by RTT Staff Writer
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