Letter to the Editor

Greenfield Recorder, Feb. 18, 2023

by Pat Hynes

The number of those killed by the 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6 has risen above 40,000, with many more thousands injured. Years of war in Syria (civil, with regional and “great power” rivalries involved) have left damaged buildings vulnerable to collapse.

Further, severe U.S. sanctions have blocked physical reconstruction of power plants and cities destroyed by the war’s bombing. Despite some loosening of the U.S. ban to make it easier for organizations to do relief work, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will roll back sanctions on a greater scale for Syria.

U.S. sanctions, according to Middle East expert Professor Juan Cole, “have threatened anyone who deals with the Syrian government,” intentionally keeping the Syrian people poor and the government unable to rebuild their country.

But out of humanitarian concerns, many countries, including Middle East neighboring countries are defying the U.S. sanctions and coming to that country’s aid. Venezuela defied U.S. sanctions and the blockade, sending a plane full of 15 tons of food, medicine and other aid, along with a search and rescue team, to Damascus. “Solidarity will never be blockaded,” avowed Venezuela’s ambassador to Syria, José Gregorio Biomorgi Muzattiz.

Since 1966, the U.N. Security Council has established 30 sanctions regimes in many African countries, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as against ISIS, al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Notably the U.N.-sanctioned countries have not included powerful Western countries, though many have been involved in criminal wars — including the U.S. war in Vietnam, the 20-year U.S.-led/ NATO war in Afghanistan and the U.S. war in Iraq.

Our government boasts to the world about its rules-based order, but violates the most important rule: The Golden Rule.