Russian Continues to Block Action on Syria at the G8
Washington D.C. – Human Rights First calls on the Secretary of State and other G8 ministers gathered this week to engage in discussions about practical and actionable strategies to end Assad’s atrocities. The organization notes that Secretary Kerry will go the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London today with a new package of nonlethal aid for Syrian Rebels, a new step for U.S. policy in the conflict. Discussions on how to end the crisis in Syria are anticipated to be at the top of the agenda and British Foreign Secretary William Hague Syrian has invited opposition leaders to meet ministers on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Russia continues to provide the Assad regime with resources that directly sustain the ongoing violence and bloodshed that has now claimed over 70,000 lives.
Human Rights First notes that a critical step toward ending the Syrian crisis would be to negotiate an end to the shipment of arms and fuel and providing financing to the Assad regime, specifically the massive arms sales from Russia’s Rosoboronexport. Another step is to agree on protocols to ensure that aid to the rebels do no ultimately support others who may become perpetrators of mass atrocities in the future.
“The Syrian conflict has entered its third year, yet the world’s largest economic powers have yet to leverage their collective influence and choke off the supply of resources flowing to the Assad regime. In fact, Russia remains the regime’s biggest enabler of these atrocities,” says Human Rights First’s Hameed. “Assad requires the influx of ammunition, technical assistance and access to finance in order to sustain ongoing attacks. Our research indicate that Russia continues to provide all these and more. If G8 Foreign Ministers really want to be taken seriously on the subject of Syria, they need to start by ensuring that none of the group’s member countries are sustaining the regime through the direct provision of enabling resources, through access to their financial markets or by allowing such resources to transit through their jurisdiction.”
Human Rights First’s recently released report, The Enablers of the Syrian Conflict: How Targeting Third Parties Can Slow the Atrocities in Syria, and the interactive website that accompanies it, provide the most comprehensive look to date at the Syrian regime’s complex network of third party “enablers.” These actors, either knowingly or inadvertently, support the Assad regime’s ongoing crimes and include:
- Russia has provided military equipment, military advisors, diesel fuel, gasoil, and financial assistance
- Iran has provided military equipment, advisors, and personnel, diesel fuel, and financial assistance
- North Korea has provided missile technology, other arms, and technical assistance
- Venezuela and Angola have sent, or contracted to send, diesel fuel
- Private entities in Georgia, Lebanon, and Cyprus have reportedly sent or attempted to send diesel fuel
- An oil trader in South Africa brokered Angola’s fuel deal with Syria
- A trader in the UAE provided internet filtering devices made by California’s Blue Coat Systems, Inc.
- Italy’s Finmeccanica provided radio technology and technical assistance through the Syrian unit of Intracom-Telecom, a Greek company
- Italy’s Area SpA provided an internet surveillance system, which relied on technology from California’s NetApp Inc. and Hewlett Packard, France’s Qosmos SA, and Germany’s Ultimaco Safeware AG
Hameed concludes, “The United States should set the example of what this strategy entails by ending the Pentagon’s ongoing relationship with Rosoboronexport that continues to this day despite a law banning such purchases.”