The HillTube

Rice: Assad pushing Syria to 'civil war'

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that it was time for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to go, as the embattled leader said he would continue to crack down against anti-government forces despite protests from other Arab League members.

"He is driving his country to the brink of civil war," Rice said on CNN's State of the Union. "It's time for Bashar al-Assad to go," she said.

Insurgents in Syria shot rocket-propelled grenades at a government building in Damascus Sunday, marking the first attack inside the Syrian capital since the uprising began eight months ago. But, Rice said, she was encouraged by the diplomatic pressure asserted by other Arab states. The Arab League told Assad that he would face sanctions if he did not pull military forces out of areas where rebels had gained power.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The good thing is you have Turkey and other states in the Middle East calling Assad out," Rice said.

Rice also said that the country was "no friend of the United States and "the handmaiden of Iran."

The former secretary of State's interview also touched on a decision by her successor, Sec. Hillary Clinton, to travel to Burma next month. Clinton will be the first U.S. secretary of State to visit that country in half a century. Rice was generally supportive of the move, despite concerns over the authoritarian policies of the military dictatorship that has ruled the nation, also known as Myanmar.

"I know Sec. Clinton, and I'm sure she will make a very strong case for human rights there, but it's a very repressive regime and it has not made a strategic decision to change and until you have that strategic decision, the United States had to keep advocating," Rice said.

"But I have no quarrel though with taking the trip in order to advocate for taking those positions."

Rice also was asked to critique recent gaffes by Republican presidential candidates, a task that she handled diplomatically.

"You don't have to know the ins and outs of foreign policy, but the basics of foreign policy - you can master those during the campaign, and it’s important for the American people know you care enough about these issues to do that," Rice said.

Rice also said she would not consider joining the cabinet of a new Republican president if the GOP proved victorious in the 2012 election.

"I am a happy university president, and I'm happy to remain one," Rice said.