February 8, 2016

Nelson says only change in leadership will stop bloodshed in Syria (AUDIO)

Sen. Ben Nelson says his recent trip to the Middle East has convinced him that Syria needs a change of leadership to stop the bloodshed there.

Nelson met with United States Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, after returning from his visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Ford has returned to the United States as well, but not voluntarily. The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad banned Ford and other diplomats from the country as fighting there escalates. Nelson calls the action by Syria’s rulers a strong, negative message to the international community.

Nelson says officials from Saudi Arabia told him they want to be part of a collaborative effort to remove al-Assad from office and end the conflict.

“Now, I’m not calling for military intervention,” Nelson says. “It’s far too early to consider something like that, especially when it may not be necessary.”

Nelson weaves three scenarios for an Assad exit. He says Assad can step down and face prosecution as Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt. Assad can attempt to remain in power, fight and be killed as was the case with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Assad can use the model Abdullah Saleh used in Yemen, leaving his country for the United States after making a deal with rebels who promised he would be granted immunity.

United Nations observers have uncovered evidence of widespread massacres in Syria. Pressure mounts against Syria, even from its staunch ally, Russia, still…

“A lot of this will depend on Assad and his family,” according to Nelson.

The United Nations has been gathering evidence against Assad and might move soon to declare his presidency illegitimate.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]

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