This report for Congress "analyzes the current unrest in Syria and the U.S. response to the Syrian government's crackdown against demonstrators. It also provides background information on U.S. sanctions against the Asad regime and its supporters. The confrontations and violence that swept through Syria in 2011 have escalated to the edge of civil war in early 2012." Despite internal as well as international demands calling for President Bashar al Asad to step down from power, the regime is refusing to do so and responding to opposition and protests "with overwhelming force. President Obama and his Administration have been calling for Asad's resignation since August 2011 and have been vocal advocates for United Nations Security Council action to facilitate his removal." The recent violence in Syria has led some, including Members of Congress and other nongovernmental observers, to believe "that U.S. policy should shift toward outright confrontation and embrace regime change as a policy goal." Others, however, have argued for "a gradual approach of increasing multilateral political condemnation and economic pressure against the Asad regime. For now, the major question before concerned international actors is how to support Syria's opposition in a supportive manner that circumvents the United Nations Security Council veto of Russia and China, assuming both nations do not change their position on Syria."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33487