Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today introduced a comprehensive bill to hasten the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, offer support for genuinely democratic and inclusive opposition groups, and provide economic incentives to create a prosperous future in a post-Assad Syria.
“President Obama has said Assad’s departure is imminent, ever since he first called for his departure last August. Almost six months later, Assad remains in power,” said Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The answer does not lie with the UN Security Council, where Russia and China wait with a veto. Unless we continue to increase pressure on his regime and plan effectively for a post-Assad Syria, we run the risk of violence and instability getting even more out of control, both in Syria and the region.”
The Syria Democracy Transition Act of 2012 would apply crippling sanctions to Syria’s Central Bank, petroleum and shipping industries, going straight at the oil revenue, arms deals, and other support that continues to prop up Assad’s moribund regime. Additionally, the bill would create a $50 million Syrian Stabilization Fund (from existing State Department appropriations) to monitor and dispose of unconventional weapons threatening U.S. troops and our allies in the region, and to provide vital assistance to opposition groups working towards an inclusive and democratic future in Syria. The bill would also open the door to a range of economic incentives for Syria, including an Enterprise Fund closely modeled on the Eastern European models that would help kick start the private sector once a genuinely democratic post-Assad transition is underway.
“We need to reassert our leadership role in the region,” added Rubio. “Once the Administration certifies a legitimate transitional authority, our assistance will prove vital to preparing the Syrian people for the difficult yet ultimately rewarding path to true representational democracy.”
The text of the legislation is available here.