Senators Seek More Syrian Sanctions as Chemical-Arms Plan Debated

Global Security Newswire Staff
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 15, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

A bi­par­tis­an group of sen­at­ors is push­ing to im­pose new sanc­tions against the re­gime of Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad and its sup­port­ers, just as the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity as­sesses how to rid his forces of chem­ic­al weapons that they al­legedly turned on cit­izens in the on­go­ing civil war.

Sen­at­ors Richard Blu­menth­al (D-Conn.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) an­nounced on Thursday that they were join­ing with Sen­at­ors John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Bob Ca­sey (D-Pa.) in fil­ing the Syr­ia Sanc­tions En­hance­ment Act of 2013. The stand-alone bill, they said in a state­ment, would “up­date ex­ist­ing sanc­tions to re­flect the real­ity that the Syr­i­an re­gime con­tin­ues its per­sist­ent war crimes.”

“The Syr­ia Sanc­tions En­hance­ment Act looks at all the per­pet­rat­ors of hor­rif­ic vi­ol­ence who em­power these ter­ror­ists and cre­ates sanc­tions against them,” Blu­menth­al said. “Any­one who helps As­sad and the Syr­i­an re­gime de­vel­op weapons of mass de­struc­tion or provides them with con­ven­tion­al weapons is re­spons­ible for the ma­jor­ity of killings in Syr­ia.”

The U.S. Of­fice of For­eign As­sets Con­trol since 2004 has had a Syr­ia sanc­tions pro­gram — which was cre­ated and ex­pan­ded upon through pres­id­en­tial ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders — in part to thwart the coun­try’s sup­port of ter­ror­ism and pur­suit of WMD and mis­sile pro­grams.

The four sen­at­ors’ pro­posed le­gis­la­tion would co­di­fy the ex­it­ing sanc­tions pro­gram and build upon it. Their bill would tar­get Syr­ia’s re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia by end­ing trans­ac­tions between the U.S. and fin­an­cial in­sti­tu­tions — in Rus­sia and else­where — that sup­port the As­sad gov­ern­ment. The meas­ure also would ban any en­tit­ies that provide arms to the Syr­i­an re­gime from hav­ing pro­cure­ment con­tracts with the U.S. gov­ern­ment. The Pentagon already has de­cided to stop buy­ing Rus­si­an heli­copters for Afgh­anistan’s air force from Rus­si­an state-owned ex­port­er Rosobor­on­ex­port, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

In­ter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion of As­sad has in­creased since a massive Aug. 21 chem­ic­al-gas at­tack in a Dam­as­cus sub­urb, which his em­battled re­gime is widely be­lieved to have per­pet­rated. Un­der pres­sure from both the United States and Syr­i­an ally Rus­sia, the As­sad gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber agreed to elim­in­ate its roughly 1,300 met­ric tons of sar­in nerve agent and mus­tard gas.

The Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons’ Ex­ec­ut­ive Coun­cil ad­journed a meet­ing at its headquar­ters on Fri­day without mak­ing a de­cision on ac­cept­ing a chem­ic­al-weapons de­struc­tion plan craf­ted by As­sad, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

The Hag­ue-based or­gan­iz­a­tion op­ted to wait for an ex­pec­ted an­nounce­ment later on Fri­day from Al­bania about wheth­er it would host the de­struc­tion of Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons on its soil. Al­bani­an Prime Min­is­ter Edi Rama said he will de­cide wheth­er to heed the con­tro­ver­sial re­quest by the United States to des­troy the pois­on­ous arms. Pro­test­ers have flocked to the Al­bani­an cap­it­al for days to de­nounce the pro­spect.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
2 hours ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:

  • Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
  • Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
  • They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
  • One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”

Source:
×