For Immediate Release: March 15, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Today marks two years since the start of the Syrian uprising that has claimed nearly 70,000 lives, caused over one millions refugees to flee the country and sparked an international debate about how the world should respond to ongoing atrocities. Human Rights First notes that the conflict in Syria is a human rights catastrophe perpetuated by a complex network of supply chains that have supported the Assad regime. To shed light on these actors, Human Rights First today released a new interactive online site and accompanying report, The Enablers of the Syrian Conflict: How Targeting Third Parties Can Slow the Atrocities in Syria, detailing the countries and commercial entities that are enabling Syrian President Bashir Assad’s crackdown. The group also offers specific recommendations for how the United States can disrupt these supply chains.
“For two years, countries and commercial entities have successfully provided the Assad regime with the munitions, supplies and money they need to sustain their brutal campaign,” said Human Rights First’s Sadia Hameed. “This report provides clear steps the United States and other nations can take to successfully cut off these supply chains and hold enablers of the Syrian atrocity accountable for their actions. As the U.S. government considers its options in response to the Syrian crisis, it should use this roadmap to stem the bloodshed there by choking the flow of arms, resources, and money flowing to President Bashar al-Assad.”
Today’s report and the interactive website that accompanies it is the most comprehensive look to date at the Syrian regime’s complex network of third party “enablers.” These actors either knowingly or inadvertently support their ongoing crimes and include:
- Russia has provided military equipment, military advisors, diesel fuel, gasoil, and financial assistance
- Iran has provided military equipment, advisors, and personnel, diesel fuel, and financial assistance
- North Korea has provided missile technology, other arms, and technical assistance
- Venezuela and Angola have sent, or contracted to send, diesel fuel
- Private entities in Georgia, Lebanon, and Cyprus have reportedly sent or attempted to send diesel fuel
- An oil trader in South Africa brokered Angola’s fuel deal with Syria
- A trader in the UAE provided internet filtering devices made by California’s Blue Coat Systems, Inc.
- Italy’s Finmeccanica provided radio technology and technical assistance through the Syrian unit of Intracom-Telecom, a Greek company
- Italy’s Area SpA provided an internet surveillance system, which relied on technology from California’s NetApp Inc. and Hewlett Packard, France’s Qosmos SA, and Germany’s Ultimaco Safeware AG
Today’s report notes that U.S. can play a role in stopping or stemming any one of these transactions.
“Failure to act now will lead to even more bloodshed and will send the wrong message to those fueling Assad’s atrocities. It must be made clear that enabling these crimes comes with consequences,” said Hameed. “Today’s report outlines concrete action that the U.S Government can take to shorten the lifespan of this deadly conflict.”
Human Rights First notes that the United States has a responsibility to take the following steps as soon as possible:
- The State Department should publicly and privately pressure enabling countries, share information with the foreign authorities who can aid in disrupting enablers, and direct embassies to collect information on enablers.
- The Treasury Department should impose sanctions that prevent U.S. entities from doing business with Assad’s enablers and that limit his ability to repatriate funds from oil exports.
- The Commerce Department should amend the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to secure control over the delivery of information and communications technology to repressive regimes like Syria. The Department should also work with the industry to promote its best practices, to prevent such technology from enabling atrocities.
- The Department of Defense should void its existing contracts with the enablers of atrocities in Syria and adopt a regulation to prohibit activities with state-owned enterprises, commercial entities, and individuals that enable mass atrocities.
- Congress should pass legislation targeting the enablers of Syrian atrocities, which, for instance, could require federal contractors to certify that they are not in business with Assad’s enablers and prohibit enabling foreign financial institutions from doing business with American financial institutions.
- The Atrocity Prevention Board should actively identify enablers and enact measures to disrupt them in early warning stages of atrocities and in ongoing atrocities.
For more information about today’s report or to speak with Hameed, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.