By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
June 6, 2012
Although economic sanctions by themselves cannot bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria, they can play an important role in hastening an end to the violence and bringing about political change, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.
Speaking to the Friends of the Syrian People’s International Working Group on Sanctions in Washington June 6, Geithner welcomed restrictions that Syria’s neighbors and the European Union placed upon senior officials and supporters of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Syria’s Central and Commercial banks, and he urged countries that have yet to adopt formal sanctions to “move quickly to do so.”
“Strong sanctions, effectively implemented, aggressively enforced, can help deprive the Syrian regime of the resources it needs to sustain itself and to continue its repression of the Syrian people,” Geithner said in his prepared remarks.
They can also “make clear to the Syrian business community and other supporters of the regime that their future is bleak so long as the Assad regime remains in power,” and “help hasten the day the Assad regime relinquishes power,” he said.
Sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, the Arab League, Turkey and Qatar are not intended to target the Syrian people, he said.
Geithner said there is “no justification” for allowing senior Assad regime members and their financial supporters to access the global financial system or to allow Syria’s Central and Commercial banks and other institutions that act on behalf of the Assad regime to receive unauthorized funds.
The treasury secretary added, “We see no justification for purchasing Syrian oil. Or for allowing financial institutions in any jurisdiction, or ships flagged in any nation, to facilitate the sale, the insurance, or the transport of Syrian oil.”
Likewise, there is “no justification for facilitating the sale of arms to the Assad regime,” Geithner said.
The Assad regime poses the greatest threat to the Syrian people’s well-being, and the longer it remains in power, the more suffering they will endure and the more likely that the 15-month-old conflict will threaten the stability of the Middle East region, he said.
“We, the United States, hope that all responsible countries will soon join in taking appropriate economic actions against the Syrian regime, including, if necessary, Chapter VII action in the U.N. Security Council,” Geithner said. He added that unless the Assad regime begins to meaningfully comply with U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, Security Council action “is the direction in which we are soon headed.”
The text of Chapter VII of the United Nations charter is available on the organization’s website.