Rubio proposes sanctions to speed transition to democracy in Syria

"The answer does not lie with the U.N. 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."

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Rubio's Syria Democracy Transition Act, S. 2152, would impose new sanctions on entities that do business with Syria's central bank or its petroleum or shipping industries. A summary of the bill said this would go "straight at the oil revenue, arms deals and other support that continues to prop up Assad's moribund regime."

More specifically, the bill would ban any accounts in the United States that are involved in transitions with these industries, and freeze all financial transactions linked to Syria's petroleum sales.

It would also require the State Department to push for U.N. agreement on a ban on passenger flights, and a trade ban with Syria.

In recent months, Syria has been criticized by the United States and its allies for a violent crackdown against pro-democracy forces within the country. Rubio said his bill would help reassert U.S. leadership and only allow sanctions to be eased once the administration confirms that the country has shed Assad and is moving toward democracy.

"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."