Last week, a group of Syrian-Americans from around the country visited the White House to discuss their concerns regarding recent events taking place in Syria. Events occurring in that country have a profound effect on many Arab-Americans in our nation given their deep and extensive family ties to the region. The group included entrepreneurs, scholars, physicians, lawyers, and civic leaders that were first or second-generation Americans. Many traveled from various states to receive an update on the Obama Administration’s view of the situation and to share their insights with the White House National Security Staff.
In recent months, events in Syria have been marked by increasing unrest, as the Syrian people have called for reform and suffered greatly at the hands of the Syrian Government. President Obama and the broader Administration have repeatedly condemned the Syrian government’s treatment of its citizens, and have called for an immediate halt to the violence and abuse of basic human rights. They have also strongly urged that meaningful political and democratic reform be implemented. The President has imposedsanctions against Syrian regime officials and entities – including President Assad – to check the brutal crackdown that has been unleashed. Earlier last week, another round of sanctions was announced with the goal of further isolating and increasing the pressure on the Syrian government in response to its continued repression of the democratic aspirations of Syrians.
The conversation focused on the deliberate and strategic ways that the administration has moved to do all it can to end the violence and mass arrest campaign. The meeting was a productive step towards connecting grassroots Syrian-American leaders with policymakers in the White House, and is an example of community engagement by the White House on an urgent area of concern. The White House appreciated the opportunity to receive recommendations made by the Syrian-American community to effectively address ongoing Syrian unrest.