World roundup: February 22 2023
Stories from Israel-Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, and elsewhere
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
Writing for Inkstick, Defense Priorities’ Geoff LaMear makes the case for lifting US sanctions against Syria:
Adding a carte blanche exemption for 180 days is helpful, but the effects of sanctions have already hindered relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Over the long term, humanitarian exemptions offered on a case-by-case basis and touted as a way for humanitarian organizations to operate are not a solution. These exemptions are slow, often take several months for approval, and require complicated legal maneuvering. Furthermore, sanctions delay the types of items that humanitarian organizations can distribute. According to one UN report, some items as innocuous as hand sanitizer can be considered “dual use” and have to undergo further vetting to ensure they are not used for military purposes.
What are these coercive sanctions trying to achieve? The Syrian government has eliminated virtually all armed resistance aside from a Turkish-backed holdout in Idlib. These sanctions won’t change that, nor will they change how the Assad government operates. Instead, they perpetuate the cruelty of isolating war-weary people from the global economic system. Without trade and investment, Syria stays mired in the devastation that has engulfed it for the last decade. The Syrian people are put into the crosshairs just as much as the regime officials these sanctions are designed to target.
US decision-makers verbally attest that these sanctions are meant to protect the Syrian people. If this is the intent, then they have demonstrably failed. Cutting off private investment consolidates economic power in the hands of the state, which means more potential coercion from the government. If the United States wishes to see the aspirations of freedom-loving Syrians actualized, eliminating sanctions would provide an economic lifeline independent of the Assad regime.
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