(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama repeated his call for regime change in Syria, but stressed he does not want to see Syrian President Bashar Assad replaced by another despot.
“What I am confident about is ultimately what the people of Syria are looking for is not replacing oppression with a new form of oppression,” Obama said Friday during a joint press conference with Jordan King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan.
“What they’re looking for is replacing oppression with freedom and opportunity and democracy and the capacity to live together and build together, and that’s what we have to begin planning for now, understanding that it is going to be difficult,” he added.
“Something has been broken in Syria, and it is not going to be easy to put back together perfectly, immediately anytime soon even after Assad leaves,” Obama continued. “But we can begin the process of moving it in a better direction and having a cohesive political opposition is I think is critical to that.”
Earlier in the press conference, Obama said that the State Department has been working to form a credible opposition to take over upon the removal of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has spent months killing thousands of political opposition in the country’s civil war.
Obama said that if Assad used chemical weapons, it would be a game changer, but in response to a reporter’s question about heavier involvement, Obama said the United States is criticized when it intervenes militarily and is criticized when it doesn’t. He further said he wanted to work with the international community to diplomatically press Assad to step down.
The Syrian crisis began in March 2011, part of the Arab Spring, as a peaceful protest against Assad, but it turned into a civil war when opposition supporters took up arms to defend against the regime’s crackdown. More than 70,000 people have been killed since, according to the United Nations.