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Home / Press Release / Kerry Tackles Enablers of Syrian Atrocities during Iraq Visit
March 25, 2013

Kerry Tackles Enablers of Syrian Atrocities during Iraq Visit

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised Secretary of State John Kerry for his calls to cut off supplies that are fueling the atrocities in Syria that have claimed more than 70,000 lives. Yesterday, Kerry told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that Iraq must take steps to stop Iran from shipping arms to Syria through Iraqi airspace.

Kerry’s call comes just days after Human Rights First released a report naming Iran as an enabler of the Assad regime. At that time, the organization urged the State Department to publicly and privately pressure enabling countries, share information with the foreign authorities who can aid in disrupting supply chains into Syria, and direct embassies to collect information on enablers.

“Secretary Kerry’s pointed call for Iraq to do its part to stem the violence in Syria is exactly the kind of U.S. leadership we need to help stop the atrocities in Syria,” said Human Rights First’s Sadia Hameed. “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. Failure to act now to cut off these supplies 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.”

Human Rights First’s recently released reportThe Enablers of the Syrian Conflict: How Targeting Third Parties Can Slow the Atrocities in Syria,  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 the Assad regime’s 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

In addition to its recommendation for the State Department, detailed above, Human Rights First notes that the United States has a responsibility to take the following steps as soon as possible:

  • 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 Atrocities 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 bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.