The Assad regime’s attempts to evade accountability for its crimes are evident in its strategy of relying on obsolescence and introducing new security and military figures, as highlighted in a research paper published by a Syrian researcher at the Atlantic Council.
Annually, at the beginning and middle of each year, Assad releases a detailed bulletin announcing new appointments and promotions within his army. This includes the retirement and replacement of officers reaching retirement age, as well as the promotion of certain officers.
Mohsen Mustafa, the author of the research paper, emphasizes that in early 2023, a secret and undisclosed bulletin was issued, outlining appointments and promotions within the “Syrian army.”
Out of the thirty commanding officers within the Syrian army and security forces, only two, Maj. Gen. Suhail al-Hassan and Maj. Gen. Saleh al-Abdullah, are currently blacklisted by Western countries.
This discrepancy sheds light on a significant flaw in the sanctions system, indicating its failure to keep up with the evolving reality of regime members, according to Mustafa, a researcher at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies.
Examples confirming impunity
As an example, in late April 2022, Assad appointed Maj. Gen. Ali Abdulkarim Ibrahim as the Chief of the General Staff, a position that had remained vacant since the beginning of 2018
Furthermore, Major General Ali Mahmoud Abbas was appointed as the defence minister, and neither of these individuals has been included in any Western sanctions lists.
It is worth noting that even when Western countries do issue sanctions against individuals, they often come years after the offences have taken place.
For instance, the United States waited until October 2022 to blacklist three officers involved in the August 2013 chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta, which tragically claimed the lives of approximately 1,400 people.
Ironically, as pointed out by Mustafa, these three officers had retired several years prior to their blacklisting.
Additionally, it took an entire decade for Officer Amjad Youssef, responsible for the Tadamon massacre in April 2013, to be added to the sanctions list.
These delayed responses reveal a lack of motivation on the part of the United States and its Western allies to hold regime officers accountable with the same urgency and determination as before.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.