CSI expresses concern over “Joint Statement” on Syria, urges review of impact of economic sanctions as coronavirus strikes

Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Christian human rights organization, has written to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing grave concern over US policy in Syria as reflected in the March 15 Joint Statement by the US, UK, Germany and France on the Ninth Anniversary of the Syrian Uprising.

The Joint Statement fails to acknowledge the role played by Islamist rebel armies and their international backers in contributing to the 500,000 deaths, eleven million displacements, extensive religious cleansing, and enslavement over the past nine years of regime change conflict in Syria. Instead, it holds the Syrian government and its international backers exclusively responsible.

In his letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, CSI-USA President Dr John Eibner argues that the Joint Statement oversimplifies the situation in Syria and makes serious omissions.

  • It overlooks the fact that most of Syria is now controlled by the Syrian state. Religious pluralism is a reality in Syrian-state controlled territory unlike in Islamist rebel-controlled areas that have been religiously cleansed.
  • It falsely claims that the Global Coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated “all territory once held by Daesh”, whereas the Syrian army and its backers have liberated territory held by Daesh, as well as by other Islamists militias, some affiliated with al-Qaida.
  • It ignores the complex network of armed opposition groups, many of which adopt the same extremist policies as Daesh, and which continue to attack civilian areas under state control.
  • It disregards the disastrous impact of broad, coercive sector sanctions imposed by the US and the EU over the past nine years.

Sanctions and other coercive measures have failed to bring about a political settlement, but have instead contributed to one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time, says Eibner, pointing out that millions of displaced and vulnerable civilians have greatly reduced access to food and medicines.

While it is impossible to condone violations of human rights by the Syrian government we cannot allow them to blind us to the human cost of the coercive policies implemented by the various powers that strive to overthrow it, including the US, says Eibner. While urging a full policy review, Eibner calls on the State Department to fund and publish an independent study of the impact of economic sanctions on the Syrian civilian population.

Similar responses to the “Joint Statement” have been sent to the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany and France. Syrian church leaders, former western diplomats and human rights activists are among the co-signatories. See links below.


Read Dr. John Eibner’s full letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.