Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
|For Immediate Release: |
August 3, 2011
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Boxer, DeMint Join Colleagues in Calling for Tougher Sanctions Against Syria
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging President Obama to impose tougher sanctions against the Syrian government in response to the brutal violence the regime has inflicted upon its own citizens who are standing up for basic human rights and democratic reforms. The government crackdown has already led to an estimated 1,600 deaths, and thousands more have been injured.
The Senators are urging the Administration to prohibit U.S. businesses from operating or investing in Syria, impose stringent sanctions on Syria’s banking sector, restrict the travel of Syrian diplomats within the United States and block property transactions in which the Syrian government has an interest. In addition, the Senators are calling on President Obama to engage with European allies on ceasing the purchase of Syrian oil and investments in Syria’s oil and gas sectors to send a clear message to the Syrian government that its behavior will not be tolerated.
In their letter, the Senators wrote, “The Syrian people deserve a government that represents their aspirations, and respects their basic human rights. It is clear that President al-Assad is not committed to pursuing the reforms that would meet these goals. As such, the United States and the international community must hold the regime accountable, and pressure them to change course. Implementing additional sanctions would show the Syrian people that we stand with them in their struggle for human rights and a more representative government, while also making it clear to the Syrian regime that it will pay an increasing cost for its outrageous repression.”
Last May, President Obama imposed sanctions for human rights abuses on several members of the Syrian regime, including President Bashar al-Assad and his family and associates. The United States has also maintained key portions of the Syria Accountability & Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, which include a ban on American exports to Syria other than food and medicine and a ban on Syrian aircraft landing in or overflying the United States. Additional sanctions would be an effort to hold the regime accountable and pressure it to change course.
In addition to Senators Boxer and DeMint, the letter was signed by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Scott Brown (R-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tom Udall (D-NM), David Vitter (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:
August 3, 2011
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you to immediately implement additional sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While we appreciate the measures you have taken to date—including imposing sanctions on President al-Assad, his family, and associates—we believe it is time to significantly increase pressure on the regime. No government should be allowed to inflict such suffering on its people without a harsh rebuke from the United States and from the broader international community.
Specifically, we request that you implement a number of key sanctions outlined in P.L 108-175, the Syria Accountability & Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. As required under this law, President George W. Bush implemented two of the available sanctions—a ban on exports to Syria other than food and medicine, and a ban on Syrian aircraft landing in or overflying the United States.
We are pleased that you have maintained these sanctions, but seek further implementation of the law, including a ban on U.S. businesses operating or investing in Syria, restrictions on travel by Syrian diplomats in the United States, and blocking transactions of property in which the Government of Syria has an interest. We also request that you work swiftly to identify and implement additional sanctions—including on Syria’s banking sector—to send a clear message to the Syrian government that its behavior will not be tolerated.
In addition, we ask that you engage with our European allies and European energy companies on ceasing the purchase of Syrian oil and investment in Syria’s oil and gas sectors, and that you work to encourage the European Union to sanction the Commercial Bank of Syria, as the United States did in 2004.
We share your stated strong concern that the Syrian government has responded with unconscionable brutality and violence to calls for real political reform. According to available figures, an estimated 1,600 Syrians have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured. In addition, thousands of refugees have fled to Turkey.
The Syrian people deserve a government that represents their aspirations, and respects their basic human rights. It is clear that President al-Assad is not committed to pursuing the reforms that would meet these goals. As such, the United States and the international community must hold the regime accountable, and pressure them to change course. Implementing additional sanctions would show the Syrian people that we stand with them in their struggle for human rights and a more representative government, while also making it clear to the Syrian regime that it will pay an increasing cost for its outrageous repression.
Thank you for your continuing concern and we look forward to your response.
United States Senator
United States Senator