United States Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Charles E. Schumer and Sherrod Brown today praised President Obama's executive order to impose sanctions against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and the government of Iran. The executive order comes after the Senators introduced a similar measure against Syria, which passed a key Senate committee in February.
In the face of the Syrian government's violent and bloody crackdown on opposition protestors in the country, the White House's executive order would require the President to identify those persons in the Syrian or Iranian government, and those helping them or providing to them information technology tools that allow the Syrian and Iranian governments to monitor, track or disrupt communications. These governments have used these tools to violate the human rights of pro-democracy demonstrators, members of the opposition, or others in their countries. Persons found to have assisted the governments of Syria or Iran would have their property in the U.S. blocked.
"I am very pleased that President Obama has issued the GHRAvITy Executive Order today, largely putting into place the legislation I introduced in the Senate. President Assad has brutally violated the human rights of his own people while killing thousands of Syrian citizens as well as New York native reporter Marie Colvin, in part to the tools now being sanctioned. He has fostered terrorism across his borders, continuing to be a threat to our ally Israel," said Gillibrand. "It is time for the Iranian regime's best friend President Assad to step down. These tough sanctions are an important step to end the bloodshed by the Syrian government and provide the Syrian people with tools to take back their own country."
"The harder we squeeze Syria, the greater our chances of ending the atrocities they are inflicting on their own people. President Obama has done the right thing issuing an executive order to impose sanctions against President Assad and his brutal regime," said Schumer. "Today, the US is sending a clear message to the Syrian government that their bloody crackdown will not be tolerated, and it will go a long way towards ending the Syrian regime's reign of terror."
"We can't turn a blind eye to the brutal violence facing the Syrian people who have been protesting peacefully in their call for democratic change," Brown said. "Today's executive order will help stem the tide of weapons and surveillance technology flowing to a ruthless government committed to suppressing its population at all costs."
Since March, when protests began in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has launched a series of crackdowns on his own people, sending tanks into rebellious cities as military forces fired on demonstrators. The United Nations currently estimates that more than 9,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict. Throughout the conflict, President Assad has clung to power through violence, defying protesters' demands to step down and now ignoring his own agreement to fully comply with the UN brokered ceasefire agreement.
Gillibrand-Schumer-Brown's bill is expected to go to the Senate floor later this Spring, with strong potential for reaching the President's desk before the end of the year. The Senate bill also includes bi-partisan provisions introduced by Gillibrand to similarly sanction persons providing sensitive technologies to Iran.