After failing to convince the UN Security Council to pass further sanctions on Syria, America has decided to act unilaterally and pass sanctions on Syrian institutions and individuals.
Earlier this month, after a heated debate in the Security Council, Russia used its veto power to stop America and its allies from passing further sanctions on Syria.
Because of that, the current sanctions come directly from the Trump White House. US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin said of the sanctions,
“These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support centre for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women and children”.
Mnuchin continued with a promise to,
“…relentlessly pursue and shut down the financial networks of all individuals involved with the production of chemical weapons used to commit these atrocities”.
This is done in spite of the fact that the US signed off on the fact Syria had eliminated its chemical weapons stocks in 2014. It is compounded by the fact that no investigation team has actually visited the site of the alleged 4 April chemical attack in Idlib Governorate and by the fact that no one said to be in the area at the time has asked for any kind of medicine or antidotes for exposure to sarin gas, the chemical that was said to be used in the alleged incident.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s Federation Council has responded to this latest US move saying,
“Once again we see how the sanctions are being used not as an instrument to achieve a real goal, but as a demonstration of a theatrical decisiveness, an effort to substitute or cancel the investigation by the very fact of punishment for an ostensible evidence of guilt”.
These sanctions are punitive and they are regressive. They are a punishment for a country which committed no crime apart from fighting terrorism, the very kind of terrorism Donald Trump promised to ‘knock the hell out of’.
Syria has remained consistent, the Trump administration has not.