Biden threatens new Myanmar sanctions

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Soldiers keep watch at a guesthouse, where the members of parliament reside, in the country’s capital Naypyidaw yesterday, as the party of Myanmar’s toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi demanded her immediate release after a military coup that triggered international condemnation and sanctions threats from the new US president.

Washington, Tuesday

US President Joe Biden on Monday threatened to reimpose sanctions on Myanmar following a coup by the country’s military leaders and called for a concerted international response to push them into relinquishing power.

Biden condemned the military’s takeover from the civilian-led government on Monday and its detention of the country’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi as “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law”.

The crisis in Myanmar marks the first chief test of Biden’s pledge to collaborate more with allies on international challenges, especially on China’s rising influence, in contrast to predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First” approach.

The coup also brought rare policy alignment between Biden’s Democrats and top Republicans as they denounced the military takeover and called for consequences.

“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained,” Biden said in a statement.

“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy.

The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action,” he said.

Biden warned the US was “taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour.”

“We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition,” he said.

A US official later told the Reuters news agency the administration had launched high-level internal discussions aimed at crafting a “whole of government” response and planned to consult closely with Congress.

Impunity for actions?

 Greg Poling and Simon Hudes at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies said there would almost certainly be new sanctions against those involved in the coup.

“But that is unlikely to have much immediate impact on the generals,” they said, given that few of them had any intention of travelling to or doing business in the US. - AFP

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