Earthquake Sets Off Criticism of US Sanctions on Syria

The U.S. State Department made it clear on Monday that it was only willing to support some work carried out in Syria by NGOs, but that it would have no dealings with the al-Assad government, Peoples Dispatch reports.

Earthquake wreckage in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Feb. 6. (VOA, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

By  Peoples Dispatch

The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Hboubati, has demanded that Western countries, specifically the U.S. and its allies, lift their siege and sanctions on Syria so that rescue and relief work can proceed unimpeded after the country was devastated by a powerful earthquake on Monday.

“We need heavy equipment, ambulances and fire fighting vehicles to continue to rescue and remove the rubble, and this entails lifting sanctions on Syria as soon as possible,” Hboubati said at a press conference on Tuesday, as reported by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

A powerful earthquake registering a magnitude of 7.8 struck Turkey and Syria on Monday. [As of news reports on Wednesday, the death toll had exceeded 11,000.]

Kahramanmaras, a city in Turkey, was reported to be the epicenter of the earthquake, and the nearby city of Gaziantep — home to millions of Syrian refugees — was reportedly hit the hardest.

Relief and rescue operations in Turkey have been affected by bad weather as several of the affected areas have received heavy rain and snowfall on Monday and Tuesday.

Syria’s northern provinces such as Idlib, Latakia, Hama and Aleppo have also been badly affected by the earthquake. Some of the affected areas in Idlib and Aleppo are under rebel control and densely populated by refugees from other parts of the country.

Though several countries including the U.S. and its allies have extended their support to Turkey in its relief and rescue work, they have refused to extend similar assistance to Syria.

The U.S. State Department made it clear on Monday that it was only willing to support some work carried out in Syria by NGOs, but that it would have no dealings with the Bashar al-Assad government.

“It would be quite ironic — if not even counterproductive — for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price holding a press briefing in January. (State Department, Freddie Everett)

On Monday, the Syrian government issued an appeal to the international community asking for help. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad is quoted in Al-Mayadeen as having said that his government was willing “to provide all the required facilities to international organizations so they can give Syrians humanitarian aid.”

Sanctions Hamper Relief & Rescue Work

Claiming that “Current U.S. sanctions severely restrict aid assistance to millions of Syrians,” the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) asked the U.S. government on Monday to lift its sanctions.

While it said that the NGOs working on the ground were doing a commendable job, it also said “lifting of the sanctions will open the doors for additional and supplemental aid that will provide immediate relief to those in need.”

The U.S. Congress adopted the so-called Caesar Act in 2020, according to which any group or company doing business with the Syrian government faces sanctions. The act extends the scope of the previously existing sanctions on Syria, imposed by the U.S. and its European allies since the beginning of the war in the country in 2011.

The impact of sanctions on Syria’s health and other social sectors and its overall economic recovery have been criticized by Alena Douhan, U.N. special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights. She has also demanded that all unilateral punitive measures against Syria be lifted.

Meanwhile, countries such as China, Iran, Russia, Cuba, Algeria and the UAE, among others, have expressed their willingness to provide necessary support to Syria, and have sent relief materials already.

Al-Mayadeen has however reported that the delivery of international aid, as well as the speed of relief and rescue work in Syria, continue to be impeded as the Damascus international airport is not fully operational at the moment. The airport was hit by an Israeli missile on Jan. 2 and repair work is not yet complete.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.

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10 comments for “Earthquake Sets Off Criticism of US Sanctions on Syria

  1. Bill Todd
    February 10, 2023 at 16:47

    Yet another cogent example of why the world (including the U.S.) would be a lot better off if a good-sized meteorite destroyed our entire national government with minimal collateral damage. Sure would be nice if we had the opportunity to rebuild it from scratch – well, of course we do, but having the opportunity presented to us by an Act of God would not encounter nearly as much resistance from its existing structure.

    All in favor?

  2. Quinn
    February 10, 2023 at 08:26

    “The U.S. State Department has issued warnings and threats to Erdogan if he follows through on his plan to have a neighborly relationship with Syria.

    On February 3, the Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, blasted the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Jeffry L. Flake, saying, “Take your dirty hands off of Turkey.”

    The outrage was prompted after Washington and eight European countries issued travel warnings over possible terror attacks in Turkey.”

    Was the Powerful Earthquake A Coincidence?

    “The timing of the quake with the quarrel between the US and Turkey’s foreign ministry is so obvious that one could make a conclusion that this attack is deliberate to warn everyone else in the Middle East that they can have it too, if they don’t listen to their White Masters anymore.

    So, watch out MBS of Saudi Arabia for welcoming Xi Jinping with a red carpet while extending only a fist bump to Biden, without giving in to the US demand for higher oil production output, while selling energy products from Russia.”

  3. durablewill
    February 9, 2023 at 13:09

    Syria’s and Assad’s real crime was not aligning with the United States’ hegemonic project. One can “brutalize” one’s “people” as long as he or she is aligned with the U.S. Egypt, Saudi Arabia immediately come to mind but there are other vassal states that have violated human rights while getting a pass from the hegemony as long as they aligned with us and do our bidding. Israel can certainly brutalized “its people,” if by that we mean the people they are responsible for and must treat humanely under international law in the West Bank under their (by now illegal) occupation.

    Washington likes to punish, punish, punish, no matter whom they hurt. KSA gets the carrots. Syria gets the stick. HypocritesRUs. I pray daily for the demise of the power structure in my own country.

  4. susan
    February 9, 2023 at 11:27

    The US Government, MIC and MSM are complicit in lying and bombing the shit out of Syria but not willing to tell the truth, remove sanctions or provide aid – what is the matter with our country? Are we really a bunch of depraved war mongers? I know we have military in Syria, why aren’t they providing aid instead of instigating war? This country makes me sick!

    • Bart
      February 9, 2023 at 18:38

      Susan, our military is busy guarding the plundering of Syria’s oil.

  5. Bobbie MacGhee
    February 9, 2023 at 09:19

    “Die muther-bleepers, Die”

    The watchwords of Emperor Biden, and in this specific case, the Emperor’s policy towards those who fought against being ruled by Al Qaeda and the CIA.

    This of course matches his policies to Americans, and to the rest of the world, all of which can be summed up under “Die, muther-bleepers, Die”. Hundreds of thousands dead from a containable disease, and hundreds still dying every week. Emperor Joe says “Die, muther-bleepers, Die”. America’s murderous po-lice kill by the thousands every year, and even admit to 1,000. The Emperor wants more po-lice and better funded po-lice as a part of his “Die, muther-bleepers, Die” policy. $Billions of dollars to the fascists in Ukraine, and Steve Bannon’s friends in Poland and the Baltic States …. same policy, “Die, muther-bleepers, Die!” Spread World War III to Iran …. “Die, muther-bleepers, Die!” Spread World War III to China …. “Die, muther-bleepers, Die!” Mass disasters and fires, what response to Americans get from the Emperor? “We are praying for you, but ‘Die, muther-bleepers, Die!'” A Train-wreck from an unsafe train carrying too few workers for safety based on the Emperor’s labor dictat leads to a mass release of poison chemicals …”Die, muther-bleepers, Die!”

    “Die, muther-bleepers, Die!” is the consistent policy of the Emperor from MasterCard. So, if you support a general policy of “Die, muther-bleepers, Die!”, both abroad and at home applied to Americans as well, remember to Vote Democrat. After all, mass death is now the only way to keep the stock markets going up, up, up and up.

  6. Packard
    February 9, 2023 at 08:57

    I don’t suppose the Biden Administration, in league with congress could call a “120 day humanitarian time out” with its sanctions for the sake of the suffering Syrian people?

    What would be the harm? Moreover, what might be the potential benefits?

    Asking for a couple hundred million close friends living here in America.

  7. Andrew Nichols
    February 8, 2023 at 19:50

    The Western Mainly White Minority World is a disgrace, vassals the lot of them. If they had an ounce of humanity , theyd stand up to the Empire and send all the aid needed.

    • Korey Dykstra
      February 8, 2023 at 22:23

      I agree wholehartily. The unlimited supply of American brutality is beyond belief. It has killed between 10 and 20 million people since the end of WW2 in some of the most horrible ways imaginable . It is hard to imagine that a country whose media blatenly espouses American exceptionalism will allow a country like Syria to suffer through this catastrophy and hypocritally blame it for the state of it’s infrastructure. government and it’s war. It is America that is responsible for this war, it is stealing Syrian oil and it’s wheat supply thereby either starving the people to death ar freezing them to death. I cannot fathom such an inhuman government and yet call itself a Democracy and a beacan to the world. Mass hypocracy !!!

      • Valerie
        February 9, 2023 at 09:28

        And mass delusion. It’s always the innocent populace who ultimately suffer from these sanctions.

Comments are closed.