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Sanctions Stop Food Getting To Syria, But Not Arms – OpEd

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he United States is reportedly developing a plan to vet members of the Free Syrian Army before Arab nations transfer arms to them. It hopes to avoid arming muhahideen who turn against America should they succeed in bringing down the Assad regime. The US does not want another al-Qaida on its hands. The race to arm Syria is heating up as Saudi arms shipments are said to be getting through now. Russia reportedly also has an arms shipment en route to Syria.  The UN is asking both sides not to send arms to Syria, but in vain. A new U.N. report blamed both sides for human rights violations, but explains that the Syrian army is killing many more people than the opposition. This also includes arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearance and summary execution of activists, opponents and defectors.”To underline this, Syrian activists said government troops killed at least 50 peoplein the town of Houla in Homs province on Friday.

As Syrians begin to suffer from the lack of food, oil and gas products, they are questioning the wisdom of sanctions, which are a blunt weapon imposed to bring about regime-change and not improve human rights or relieve suffering. A new book on the Iraq sanctions demonstrates how destructive they were to the most vulnerable Iraqis. L.C. Brown, my adviser at Princeton, writes in Foreign Affairs that most studies estimate that “at least 500,000 children under age five who died during the sanctions period would not have died under the Iraqi regime prior to sanctions.” Joy Gordon, the author of the new book, also punctures holes in the argument that the Iraqi suffering was due to the abusive manipulation of the sanctions by the Saddam Hussein regime.This is not to mention that they decrease the likelihood of Syria making a democratic transition in the future.

Haaretz writes that Israeli intelligence believes that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, and several other senior officials were indeed poisoned, just as the Free Syrian Army claims. But prompt medical treatment saved their lives. “There was an attempt to poison Shawkat and the other senior officials, but it failed, and all those who were at the meeting are still alive,” an Israeli official said.

What one fears is political money – an interview with Samir Aita – Read the whole interview – Very good

Syria Comment - Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.

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