“Friends of the Syrian People” Call for More Pressure on Assad
June 7, 2012
Representatives from some 60 countries, meeting in Washington June 6, reaffirmed their support for an immediate end to violence in Syria and called for increased international pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions released the results of its second meeting in a statement issued the same day through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Qatar, Turkey and the United States co-chaired the meeting, which was hosted by the Treasury Department. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner delivered opening remarks.
“The Group reaffirmed its support for an immediate end to the violence against the Syrian people,” the statement said, “and called on all members of the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the Syrian people by implementing and enforcing measures to increase pressure on the Assad regime to fully comply with its obligations in accordance with UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s Six Point plan and UNSCRs 2042 and 2043.”
The group also reaffirmed its support for sanctions outlined in the statements from its April 17 meeting in Paris and the Friends of the Syrian People’s February 24 meeting in Tunis, Tunisia.
The group said the Assad regime’s ongoing brutality is the greatest threat to the well-being of the Syrian people and emphasized that sanctions do not target Syria’s civilian population. Instead, it said, sanctions aim to increase pressure on the people and institutions responsible for the Syrian regime’s brutal repression, as well as deprive the regime of the resources it uses for this repression.
The group expressed “deep dissatisfaction” with the Assad regime’s failure to abide by its Annan Plan commitments and “grave concern” over the growing threat to regional stability. There was substantial agreement that further measures will be necessary in light of continued violence and denial of the Syrian people’s democratic aspirations.
In this regard, the group said it supports a U.N. Security Council Chapter VII resolution called for June 2 by the Arab League that would include sanctions on the Assad regime by member states, including asset freezes, travel bans, an arms embargo and other measures.
The group recognized steps taken by participating states and called on them to fully implement and enforce existing sanctions to exert maximum pressure on the Assad regime. It recognized that while these measures are imposing significant strain on the regime, “a continued concerted multinational approach” is needed to further deprive the regime of the financial resources necessary to sustain its campaign of violent repression.
The group called on all states to harmonize national and regional sanctions by imposing, at a minimum, an asset freeze on senior Syrian regime officials, as well as an asset freeze on and restriction of transactions with Syria’s Central Bank and its Commercial Bank to ensure their isolation from the international financial system.
It also called on all states to embargo Syrian petroleum products and ban insurance and reinsurance for shipments of Syrian petroleum products. In addition, it called on states to ban arms shipments to the Syrian regime and insurance and reinsurance for third-country arms shipments to the regime.
The group called on all states to issue guidance to their domestic financial institutions on the risks associated with doing business with Syria and to require those institutions to exercise enhanced due diligence on all transactions involving Syria, to keep the Assad regime from using deceptive financial practices to evade international sanctions.
The group called on Syrian business leaders and others who continue to support the Assad regime to withdraw their support or face further international isolation.
Deploring those states that are undermining the Annan Plan’s chances for success by providing financial, diplomatic or material support to the Assad regime, the group called on them to cease immediately providing any support that aids in “the violent repression of the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people,” the statement said.
Once the democratic transition is started, the group said, it is committed to bringing about a swift review of sanctions in order to support the reconstruction of the future Syria in coordination with the Friends of the Syrian People Working Group on Economic Reconstruction and Development.
The group reaffirmed its resolve to act collectively to restrict and sanction the Assad regime and its supporters and to share information on measures taken to increase pressure on the regime.
The International Working Group on Sanctions will meet next in Doha, Qatar, in July. Its statement is available on the Treasury Department’s website.