Lifting sanctions on Syria won’t help earthquake victims
Feb 9, 2023
Following the devastating series of earthquakes that struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday, the Syrian regime has re-energized its calls for lifting sanctions leveled against it. Syrian government spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban told Sky News that if the United States and the European Union lift sanctions, then “the Syrian people will be able to take care of their country”. A number of well-meaning civil society and religious groups have also made similar pleas.
The U.S. State Department has thus far rightly dismissed such calls. But as the full scope of the destruction and human suffering comes into focus, expect these calls to intensify. Here’s why the United States should hold its ground.
The U.S. government has imposed a number of sanctions against the Syrian regime going back to 1979 because of its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon. Following President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters demanding change in 2011, the U.S. government imposed additional targeted sanctions to deprive the regime of the resources it needs to continue its violence against civilians. This included blocking property of regime officials and prohibiting the importation by the United States of Syrian oil.
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