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    A Syrian national flag waves as vehicles move slowly on a bridge during rush hour, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016

    Washington Unlikely to Heed UN Proposal to Lift Sanctions on Syria

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    Former US diplomat Jim Jatras said that the United States and its allies will not permit the lifting of economic sanctions on Syria despite UN envoy Staffan de Mistura including that proposal in his plan to end the Syrian civil war.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States and its allies will not permit the lifting of economic sanctions on Syria despite UN envoy Staffan de Mistura including that proposal in his plan to end the Syrian civil war, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

    "Lifting sanctions against the Syrian government is a tall, tall order," Jatras said on Friday. "I find it difficult to believe the US will agree to sanctions relief, except very narrowly defined humanitarian aid, unless that goal is at least set to take place."

    UN Special Envoy for Syria De Mistura has suggested that all parties to the intra-Syria talks agree that Syria shall seek lifting of economic sanctions against it during the period of political transition, according to Thursday’s final declaration.

    US President Barack Obama remained determined to force Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power and that goal still took precedence over bringing a rapid end to the five year conflict that had killed 250,000 people, Jatras, a former adviser to Republican members of the US Senate, said.

    "No matter what kind of understanding seems to be in the works between the United States and Russia, the former still sees ‘regime change’ – now dubbed ‘political transition’ – as a goal as great as, maybe greater than, defeating ISIS [the Islamic State, also known as Daesh," he added.

    The Obama administration remained committed to a false interpretation of the Syrian conflict that put all the blame for it on President Assad, Jatras insisted.

    "After all, it’s ‘Assad killing his own people’ that caused ISIS, as Washington keeps insisting," he observed.

    Jatras also suggested that economic sanctions could be used as a tool to continue to bring pressure on Syria and prevent its economic recovery even after hostilities had ended.

    "Failing to lift sanctions means condemning the Syrian economy to stagnation even if hostilities have stopped," he predicted.

    Jatras also expressed skepticism that the reparations clause in De Mistura’s final declaration would ever be implemented.

    "Reparations from whom and to whom? Will Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and – let’s be honest here – the United States repay Syria for the carnage inflicted by jihadist groups over the past five years? To ask the question is to answer it," he stated.

    The reparations proposal faced many other problems, Jatras pointed out.

    "Will the Western powers insist that Russia and Iran pay for harm inflicted on opposition areas the Syrian Army has been retaking from the jihadists? If we’re not talking about foreign payers, are Syrians supposed to pay each other? The whole idea seems unrealistic to me," the former diplomat added.

    The real priority was to end the fighting in Syria, restore a sense of enforced security and encourage people to return to their homes, Jatras maintained.

    "Syria needs, first of all, peace and national reconciliation that allows displaced people to return to their homes. Second, while humanitarian assistance is vital there needs to be an ability to rebuild a normal peacetime economy, which continued sanctions will only hinder," he said.

    With respect to future rounds of the reconciliation talks, Jatras suggested, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria were likely to achieve their goal of participating directly and independently in the peace negotiations.


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