September 30, 2020

Trump to sanction Syria’s dictator for human rights abuses

Caracas (Venezuela) June 26, 2010. Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, arrival to Caracas, Venezuela, on official visit in June 25, 2010. Photo/Harold Escalona
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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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