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Join the Fight Against the Sanctions That Are Killing Syria

March 5, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—From an article in this week’s Executive Intelligence Review:

March 4—Following the 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes which struck Türkiye and Syria Feb. 6, killing as many as 6,000 Syrians and more than 40,000 in Türkiye, the Anglo-American policy of using economic sanctions to impose genocidal conditions upon the nation of Syria has come under increasing scrutiny. The weeks ahead may be decisive for the survival of this beleaguered nation.

Over the past decade, the NATO War Party has become increasingly frustrated over its failure to impose “regime change” on the Syrian government. It galled them that their efforts to engage the Obama Administration in a “hot war” with Syria in 2013 were deflected by the diplomacy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The standard neocon/neoliberal tactic of cultivating extremist groups within a target nation in order to destabilize its government, such as the nurturing of ISIS/ISIL and the al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) in Syria, had also failed.

To punish Syria for failing to lose the U.S.-sponsored proxy war which began in 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump. It intentionally sanctions any individual or group that engages in economic activity that would allow any reconstruction of Syria in the wake of the war. (See EIR, Feb. 17, 2023, “Earthquake Shows Why U.S. Syria Sanctions Must Be Overturned.” )

The “Caesar Sanctions” have effectively prevented emergency aid from reaching the citizens of Syria following the earthquakes. The day of the quakes, a month ago, the Schiller Institute released a statement, “Take This Tragedy as the Opportunity To Lift All Sanctions Against Syria,” which said, in part:

“This situation confronts us, as Western nations, with our responsibility to uphold the values we claim to embody. Are we going to continue to apply the measures that we very well know have led to the unimaginable suffering, misfortune, and death of innocent people? Or are we going to finally make the decision to lift these criminal sanctions?”

The following day, the Middle East Council of Churches issued a similar statement, calling for sanctions to be lifted “so sanctions may not turn into a crime against humanity.”

A long-time State Department official responded with a remarkably brazen opinion piece in the Washington Post, published Feb. 9 under the title, “Lifting Sanctions on Syria Won’t Help Earthquake Victims.” Also on Feb. 9, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued “Treasury Issues Syria General License 23 To Aid In Earthquake Disaster Relief Efforts,” which claimed to be relief, for 180 days, from the sanctions. But it keeps in place sanctions against any private parties that might dare to transport relief materials or transmit funds.

The World Council of Churches, along with UN Human Rights officials, publicly stated that the sanctions still hamper earthquake relief efforts and rebuilding, and demanded they be suspended entirely. UN World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley characterized the situation in Syria as a “catastrophe on top of a catastrophe,” referring to the past 12 years of civil war. He stressed the urgency of scaling up food deliveries to Syria “through all routes—without any restrictions.”

The Schiller Institute has held rallies beginning Feb. 18 and including March 4 in Los Angeles and in New York City. Diane Sare, candidate for U.S. Senate for New York, briefed the crowd in on the need to stop the U.S. warfare against Syria, and the entire Global NATO onslaught.

On Feb. 21, a Schiller Institute forum on “Syrian Sanctions Must Be Lifted” featured founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche, former head of the Army’s Criminal Law Division at the Pentagon and former Virginia State Senator Col. Richard H. Black (ret.), Malaysian human rights activist Chandra Muzaffar, and independent journalists Vanessa Beeley in Damascus and Marwa Osman in Beirut. Moderator Dennis Speed accused the Anglosphere of “weaponizing the earthquake.”

The Congressional leadership responded to this mobilization, but cynically, with House Resolution 132 on Feb. 27, full of “whereases” of sympathy for the victims of the earthquakes and support for relief efforts, but actually concluding as follows:

“Whereas the Assad regime has shamefully used the earthquake to call for the lifting of United States sanctions, falsely claiming that such sanctions impede the aid response.... Resolved, That the House of Representatives ... urges the Biden Administration to remain committed to the protection of the Syrian people including by implementing the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019”

—maintaining all the sanctions!

This week the Schiller Institute will be in Congress pushing for the counter to that, the Feb. 21 House Concurrent Resolution 20 by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, which mandates removing the 900 U.S. troops still in Syria since 2015, and must be voted on in the coming two weeks. Join the mobilization for this resolution and organize with the Schiller Institute to end the sanctions, and endless wars. 

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