Calls for Obama Administration to Withdraw Recognition of Assad Regime

Washington, D.C. – Today, as the crisis in Syria enters its fourth year, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to attacks on Syrian civilians, expanded humanitarian access, withdrawal of U.S. recognition of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and an Administration strategy for U.S. engagement on this humanitarian and national security crisis.

The resolution, H. Res. 520, notes that Bashar al-Assad and supporting militias, including Hezbollah, continue to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign, which has included mass targeted killings, mass graves, the extermination of entire families, sexual violence, widespread torture, aerial bombardment of residential areas, and forced displacement of Syrian civilians.

In introducing the resolution, Chairman Royce said:  “Syria is a humanitarian and human rights disaster.  It is beyond time for the Administration to withdraw recognition of the Assad regime in response to the atrocities it is intentionally inflicting upon Syrian civilians.  The Administration must put forth a strategy to address this crisis.  It’s a matter of national security.”

Ranking Member Engel said:  “This bipartisan resolution helps bring needed attention to the urgent humanitarian crisis in Syria and the consequences of the mass atrocities that the Assad regime has committed.  Three years is too long for anyone to be able withstand this kind of violence.  I hope that this resolution—coupled with my bill to bolster the moderate rebels in Syria, the Free Syria Army Act—will compel the Administration to put forth a detailed strategy to help bring this conflict to an end.”

The text of H. Res. 520, as introduced, is available HERE.

H. Res. 520:

·         strongly condemns all parties’ attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Syria, including attacks on medical personnel, schools, and health facilities, and the use of explosive weapons, including “barrel bombs” and missiles, in populated areas, and calls on Bashar al-Assad’s regime and supporting militias, as well as all other parties to the conflict in Syria, to end the violence against civilians, respect international norms and principles, and pursue all appropriate diplomatic options to work toward a negotiated end to the crisis;

·         demands that Bashar al-Assad’s regime and supporting militias, as well as all other parties to the conflict in Syria, immediately cease attacks upon civilians and civilian infrastructure, facilitate unfettered humanitarian access, especially that of domestic and international medical professionals, throughout the country, respect the safety and security of humanitarian workers, and ensure freedom of movement for humanitarian workers and organizations so they may deliver aid to those most in need;

·         calls for the immediate and full implementation of the provisions of the October 2013 United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement, especially including facilitation of the expansion of humanitarian relief operations in accordance with international humanitarian norms;

·         calls for the immediate, full and United Nations-monitored implementation of the provisions of the 2014 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2139 to promptly allow unhindered humanitarian access, including across conflict lines (for the United Nations and its partners) to people in need throughout Syria;

·         urges the Administration and allies of the United States to formally withdraw their recognition of Bashar al-Assad’s regime as the rightful Government of Syria, unless and until the Assad regime and its supporting militias discontinue their barbaric slaughter, systematic starvation, and other grave human rights abuses and are granted full and unfettered access for deliveries of humanitarian assistance, even as other negotiations with Assad’s regime may continue;

·         further calls upon the United Nations Security Council, acting under Article 5 of the Charter of the United Nations, to suspend the Government of Syria’s rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly until such time as the Assad regime has ceased attacks upon civilians, and granted free and unfettered access for deliveries of humanitarian assistance throughout the territory of Syria;

·         urges all donors, regional and otherwise, to meet the 2014 United Nations humanitarian funding appeal;

·         commends regional governments and communities for continuing to host Syrian refuges and urges them to keep their borders open to civilians fleeing the Syria conflict;

·         calls upon the Assad regime, the Syrian opposition, and all other parties to the conflict, the Administration, and the United Nations to improve their facilitation and support for the Syrian-American community, especially medical professionals, as they work to aid the Syrian people with all forms of humanitarian assistance;

·         calls for continued international support of neighboring countries and host communities that are supporting refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict;

·         calls for international investment in education in host countries to expand learning opportunities for refugee children, and support programs that help them gain access to quality instruction, protect them from violence and abuse, and provide counseling;

·         calls on the international community to ensure that vulnerable refugee and displaced women and girls have access to services and programs, implement steps to mitigate risks and prevent gender-based violence, and assure the protection of women and girls against sexual exploitation, early marriage, human trafficking, and rape;

·         calls for the meaningful participation of Syrian civil society, including women representatives, in the overall humanitarian response, political processes, and peace negotiations;

·         urges international donors and aid agencies to integrate humanitarian relief and longer-term development programs through a comprehensive strategy to address the protracted Syrian crisis; and

·         calls on the President of the United States to develop and submit to Congress within 60 days from adoption of this resolution a strategy for United States engagement on the Syria crisis, with a specific focus on humanitarian assistance and development, and protecting human rights inside Syria and in the region.