Cornyn Amendment to Defense Spending Bill Targets Syrian Enablers
Washington, D.C. – The Senate has approved an amendment to the FY2013 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would cease all U.S. funding to Rosoboronexport, a Russian-state arms dealer that has enabled the commission of atrocities in Syria through its provision of weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime. Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) Amendment 3260, passed last evening and prohibits funding appropriated by the defense spending bill from being used in any contract, memorandum of understanding, cooperative agreement, grant, loan or loan guarantee to Rosoboronexport. “Senator Cornyn has demonstrated tremendous leadership in targeting the enablers of Syria’s atrocities. We are thrilled that his work on this issue over the last year – from bringing attention to the troublesome U.S.-Rosoboronexport relationship to building a bipartisan coalition – has culminated in the passage of this amendment in the Senate,” said Human Rights First’s Winny Chen. “We look forward to working with other human rights champions in Congress to end U.S. business relationships with enablers of Syria’s mass atrocities.” With the conflict in Syria now nearing the two-year mark, the death toll has reportedly topped 40,000 people. The victims include soldiers and rebel fighters, but the largest proportion of that number has been civilians who were systematically targeted by the Assad regime. Russia and its primary arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, have provided material and political support to the Assad regime since the conflict broke out in March 2011, despite strong international criticism and pressure. Similar provisions targeting Rosoboronexport are moving through the House and Senate. This summer, the House passed an amendment to the FY2013 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, similar to Amendment 3260, ending U.S. military purchases from Rosoboronexport. The House also passed an NDAA amendment banning the Defense Department from purchasing helicopters for Afghan Security Forces from any firm “controlled, directed, or influenced by” a nation that provides weapons to Syria or other state sponsors of terrorism. Also in May, the Senate Armed Services Committee reported out a provision to the NDAA that requires the Comptroller General to investigate the Department of Defense’s ongoing contract with Rosoboronexport.