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Experts Offer Guidance for President on Syria

4:57 PM, Aug 19, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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•    Sanction any person assisting Syria in the development of energy pipelines as well as insurance firms, shipping companies, financing entities, ports managers, and other persons active in supporting Syria’s energy sector.   

•    Implement measures against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps individuals and entities doing business in Syria.  Expand sanctions against Syrian persons who are involved in human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and supporting Syria’s proliferation activities.  Sanction those international companies doing business with these designated Iranian and Syrian individuals and entities.

•    Sanction the Syrian Central Bank in order to freeze the Assad regime out of the global financial system and inhibit the ability of the regime to settle oil sales and other financial transactions. It is important to ensure that the Central Bank of Syria does not facilitate trade for any sanctioned Syrian banks, businesses and persons.

•    Work with our European allies to follow your lead in sanctioning the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank. 

•    Sanction international persons involved in the purchase, issuance, financing or the facilitation of Syrian sovereign debt, including energy bonds, which the Assad regime may use to circumvent investment-related sanctions in order to raise capital for its energy sector.

•    Engage Syrian opposition figures outside the country and ensure that all available aid and assistance, including secure communications and Internet circumvention technology is being made available to these groups.

•    Leverage the International Atomic Energy Agency’s referral of Syria to the United Nations Security Council for its violation of its nonproliferation obligations to press for additional sanctions against Damascus.

•    Recall Ambassador Robert Ford from Damascus unless he is clearly charged with aiding the transition to democracy in Syria.     

Mr. President, the opportunity presented by recent developments in Syria and the broader region is momentous.  As you said in May, “we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.” Supporting Syrians to rid themselves of Assad’s yoke would also have broader game-changing implications on peace and stability in the Middle East. It would deny Iran the use of its major ally as a proxy for terrorism, stem the flow of Syrian arms to Hezbollah, reduce instability in Lebanon, and lessen tensions on Israel’s northern border.    

This is a significant moment where many of our allies and partners in Europe and the region are in agreement that the Assad atrocities must stop now. They are poised to act. Now is the time to continue placing the United States firmly on the side of the Syrian people.  We urge you to grasp this opportunity and increase your administration’s efforts to ensure that the brave people taking to the streets in Syria are soon able to enjoy the fruits of freedom that we in the West hold so dear.

Sincerely,

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