A Red Crescent aid convoy in Douma, March 2018.
Bassam Khabieh / Reuters

The international sanctions imposed on Syria since April 2011 are the most comprehensive on record. Nonetheless, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has over the past seven years waged an extraordinarily brutal war on his own people, killing half a million Syrians, displacing millions more, and creating a massive humanitarian crisis in the country.

Why have sanctions been so unsuccessful at stopping Assad’s killing machine? To some extent, the failure can be attributed to the Assad regime’s determination to survive, as well as to military and economic assistance from allies such as Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah. But a big part of

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