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Trump to sanction Syria’s dictator for human rights abuses

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On Wednesday, the United States announced fresh sanctions on individuals and entities whom it views as “key enablers” of the massive human rights abuses committed by Syria’s authoritarian regime, Reuters and The Hill have reported.

President Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s longtime dictator, has been embroiled in a civil war for the past nine years, during which his government has routinely perpetrated human rights violations. In its effort to cut off the regime’s monetary sources, the U.S. will sanction six people and 13 institutions, including the Central Bank of Syria and parts of the Syrian military among others.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both stood firm in justifying the move.

“The United States will continue to employ all of its tools and authorities to target the finances of anyone who profits from or facilitates the Assad regime’s abuse of the Syrian people,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Thus far, Assad’s foreign enablers have only emboldened his regime’s cronies and deepened their involvement in the exploitative financial and military apparatus that underpins the regime’s survival,” Pompeo said in a different statement.

“There is a clear path forward,” he added. “The Syrian people have suffered enough.”

If Assad’s regime wants the sanctions to stop, Pompeo asserted, he must come to the table, accept, and implement the United Nations’ peace plan for finally ending the civil war.

The targeting of officials, commanders and “corrupt business leaders will not cease,” he said.

“Until the Assad regime and its enablers take irreversible steps to end their campaign of violence against the Syrian people and genuinely implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254,” added Pompeo.

The Syrian Civil War, sparked by the Assad government’s bloody 2011 crackdown of Arab Spring protests, quickly evolved into one of the deadliest conflicts to afflict the Middle East in decades. As of March 2020, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights has documented 384,000 deaths from the conflict. The resulting humanitarian crisis forced 6.6 million refugees to flee the war-torn country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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