Powered by WebAds

Monday, August 08, 2011

How to stop Assad

Writing in the New York Daily News, Benny Weinthal has a plan for how to stop Bashar al-Assad.
Sadly, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay's recent comment that the "world is watching" sums up the failure of the international community to stop Assad's lethal assaults against Syrian protesters.

Just watching is not enough. A mix of potent sanctions, robust diplomatic action and a joint appeal by Western leaders to Syrian protesters could push Assad's teetering regime over the edge.

Last week, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced the Syria Sanctions Act, which would require the President to impose tougher sanctions on Syria until it stops supporting terrorists, ceases its nuclear program and missile technology and WMD trade - and begins transitioning into a true democracy.

The bill would permit the President to target individuals or entities that make investments in Syria's energy sector at $5 million or more at one time or a combination of $20 million in one year. It would ban shipments of urgently needed refinery technologies and upgrades and could lead to penalties against non-U.S. companies that trade with Syria. [Does it require or permit? Given this President, there's a huge difference? CiJ]

Skepticism toward sanctions is understandable, given our inability to change Iran's behavior so far. But they can disrupt Damascus' ability to fuel its tanks and transport its death squads, which have spent the past four months crisscrossing the country and gunning down demonstrators. Syria sells 148,000 barrels of crude oil each day, and its revenues account for $4 billion of the regime's $17.8 billion annual budget. In short, the rank and file of the Syrian armed forces depends on energy profits for its livelihood.

A second and arguably more important economic pressure point is a concerted European Union effort to slash consumption of Syrian oil, along with legislation dramatically curtailing the activities of European energy companies in Syria. Take the example of the British-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell. According to the the British environmental group Platform, which monitors international energy companies, approximately 17% of Syrian tanks run on fuel derived from Shell's stocks, and 4% to 8% of Syrian tanks used to repress the population are "financed through revenue from crude extracted by Shell and its partners."

European states remain key to influencing a change in Syria. Germany, England, France and Italy - the continent's primary economic and political powerhouses - should follow the lead of the bipartisan congressional bill, and pressure Assad's regime in Europe.

A third means of influencing the behavior of the Syrian regime is an organized withdrawal of all Western ambassadors in Damascus and the ejection of all Syrian ambassadors in the West.
So far, the only European country to withdraw its ambassador is Italy. The US ambassador is still sitting there. Kuwait and Bahrain have joined Saudi Arabia and have withdrawn their ambassadors. But I have not heard of any country expelling any Syrian diplomats.

What could go wrong?

Labels: , , ,


At 11:04 PM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

the best solution would not be the abolishment of Assad but a severely weakened Syrian dictator


Post a Comment

<< Home