Global Affairs

Breaking from White House, Clinton Calls for Assad’s Removal and No-Fly Zone in Syria

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is further distancing herself from the foreign policy of the administration she served by calling for the removal of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and imposing a no-fly zone over that country.

On the campaign trail yesterday, Clinton said of Syria, “We need to be putting together a coalition to support a no-fly zone,” adding that Russia would have to lend their support to the initiative for it to be successful, The Huffington Post reported. Her statement reflects a position expressed in a television interview last week, during which Clinton called for enforcing a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors in the war-torn country, according to The New York Times.

Syria, however, remains an open sore unlike the others. Mrs. Clinton not only argued for more aggressive policy while in office, but is now looking ahead 15 months, anticipating that, if she wins the presidency, she will inherit the mess in the Middle East. Mr. Obama has said he expects to pass to his successor the war against the Islamic State terrorist group occupying parts of Syria and Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton made her frustration with the current approach clear on Thursday in interviews with Boston television stations. “I personally would be advocating now for a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors to try to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air,” she told WHDH-TV.

The White House has rejected a no-fly zone for years and repeated its position this week. “It raises a whole set of logistical questions about how exactly — what would be enforced, what sort of resources would be used to actually protect that area,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “So that’s why, at this point, we’ve indicated that that’s not something that we’re considering right now.”

Ha’aretz reported Monday that Clinton also called the removal of Assad a “top priority.”

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday said removing President Bashar al-Assad is the top priority in Syria.

Clinton, speaking at a town hall meeting in Hollis, said the United States should pursue a diplomatic solution in resolving Syria’s internal conflict.

While the administration has long called for Assad to step down, Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested that in the short term it may be enough for Iran and Russia “to keep Assad from dropping barrel bombs,” in order to form a basis for cooperation between the United States and Assad’s backers.

When asked about alternatives to his current Syria policy, President Barack Obama criticized those who “half-baked ideas.” While he later clarified that his statement did not refer to his former Secretary of State, the president suggested that Clinton was taking her positions because she was posturing as part of her campaign for the White House.

Clinton’s tough talk regarding Syria is not her first break from Obama over foreign policy. In a major foreign policy address at the Brookings Institution last month, Clinton advocated taking stronger positions against Iran and strengthening ties with Israel. She also said that the administration’s failure to respond to Assad’s chemical weapons attacks on civilians, “cost us.” The Washington Post characterized her speech as highlighting “instances overseas where she would have taken a tougher stance than Obama.”

On Friday, activists from the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS) staged a protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington, calling for an end to Moscow’s airstrike campaign and the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Syria.

[Photo: MSNBC  / YouTube ]