What Obama didn't say 

Embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad still has legitimacy in the eyes of President Obama, the commander-in-chief confirmed on Thursday.

Obama compared Assad's violent crackdown on political protestors in Syria to Moammar Gadhafi's murderous oppression in Libya, but the commander-in-chief refrained from calling for the Syrian leader to step aside.

"While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it is not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power," Obama said in a speech at the State Department. "Most recently, the Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens. The United States has condemned these actions."

Two months ago, Obama ordered Gadhafi to step aside and a few weeks later, he launched airstrikes with NATO forces at Gadhafi's military assets.

But Obama is giving Assad more time to prove he can meet the needs of protestors. 

"President Assad now has a choice: He can lead [a] transition, or get out of the way," Obama said. "The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition."

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