Photo Credit: Freedom House

It is encouraging to see the global community increasing its efforts to put Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, out of business. The violence in Syria has been shocking and the world must take action now to stop it.

The Friends of Syria summit in Tunis on Friday suggests a new calibration of increased economic pressure and humanitarian protection. Governments need to continue to tighten the screws economically until Assad agrees to real political reform.

Increased pressure through economic sanctions may succeed in cutting off the flow of funds necessary for Assad to pay for weapons and pay military and security forces.

The U.S. government imposed sanctions against Syria long ago, and is now seeking to strengthen those sanctions to cover non-U.S. companies doing business in Syria. However, some important loopholes remain. We have commented in past months on Russia’s arms sales to Syria. Not enough has been done to curtail Russia’s ability to profit from the bloodshed in Syria. Now, our allies at Human Rights First have put the spotlight on contracts that our own Department of Defense has with the same Russian company that is selling these weapons.

We have written a letter as a first step to pressure the U.S. government to end its contracts with Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport. More needs to be done to stop the flow of arms and the flow of money that allows the Assad government to continue to purchase these weapons.

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