Sanctioning Irredeemable Thugs

Sunday, June 5, 2011
Bloomberg's Editorial Board recommends a tougher U.S. policy toward Syria.

Sound familiar?

(Yet ironically some of the points below are criticized when it comes to Cuba policy).

Squeeze Syria's Thug-in-Chief Enough to Make It Hurt

What the U.S. and its allies can do is put more economic pressure on the Syrian regime. Already, the U.S. and European Union have frozen local assets of Assad and his top associates. China and Russia are unlikely to agree to broader UN sanctions, so the U.S. should seek alternatives. One would be working with the EU and Turkey to freeze the assets of Syria's state-owned banks, which finance the Syrian oil industry and key figures in the pro-Assad business elite. The U.S. and EU should also bar flights to and from Syria, and widen visa bans on Syrian officials, especially military officers and their families.

These measures aren't likely to bring down Assad's house. But they would sting. Having established themselves as miscreants, the regime's agents should now be denied the privileges of international life. The sanctions would also let the Syrian opposition know the democratic world is behind them.

Should the Syrian Spring fizzle, the Assad regime would press for a return to normalcy, and many countries would be apt to go along. But the sanctions must remain, at least until there has been accountability for the atrocities being committed now. Since he succeeded his father in 2000, Bashar al-Assad has toyed with projecting the image of reluctant ruler and reformer. As Hamza al-Khateeb's (murdered young protestor) family knows perfectly, he is but one thing: an irredeemable thug.