In a much-anticipated address, President Barack Obama’s speech outlined the U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the middle of the Arab uprisings in the world. Obama said on Thursday that Syria's brutal crackdown on pro-reform activists is not acceptable, and that Assad can no longer rule through repression.

He must change course if he wants international acceptance. The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transiton to democracy, Obama said. He has also given Presidernt Assad two choices - he must either lead his country through a democratic transition or get out of the way. This is considered to be the first direct challenge to thee Assad's autocratic hold on power in Syria.

The speech came a day after the US has imposed sanctions on Assad and six other officials for human violation during the crackdown.

Obama gave other options which ranged from ordering the Syrian government to stop shooting demonstrators, allowing peaceful protests and starting a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. “Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad”, Obama said.

In his speech Obama also pointed out that, “A new generation has emerged and their voices say that ‘change cannot be denied.”