Senior US politicians called on all countries to avoid contact with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in anticipation of the introduction of a new package of sanctions. Caesar’s law, which will take effect next week, punishes all companies that deal with Damascus and blocks any assistance in rebuilding Syria until Bashar al-Assad is removed from ruling the country.
In a joint statement, Democrats and Republicans, members of international affairs groups in the Senate and House of Representatives stated that “Assad remains an outcast” and “he will never restore his reputation as a legitimate leader.” The joint statement reflects Washington’s bipartisan consensus on tougher sanctions targeting Damascus, although some of Assad’s former opponents, such as the United Arab Emirates, seek to normalize relations.
Existing US and European sanctions are directed against influential Syrian citizens and the oil sector. The new measures entail varying degrees of severity, and are directed against those who collaborate with the Syrian government. “Caesar’s Law” aims to close existing loopholes and punish anyone who does business with the central bank of Syria, the military-industrial and oil sectors. Countries such as China, the UAE and Russia will also be under attack, as they are interested in financing and implementing projects for reconstruction of the ATS.
Whether the new sanctions will weaken Assad’s regime or push him to reform, resign, or change his behavior is far from clear. Now the regime is facing unprecedented criticism from its loyalist base, because the economy has collapsed to nowhere. People are faced with the harsh reality that the government cannot protect its people.
In this scenario, an increase in the number of sanctions without a realistic endgame simply means further impoverishment of the population and prevention of recovery, which will be necessary for basic stability, the return of displaced people and the resumption of their lives.
Supporters of the bill say it contains important exceptions that minimize its impact on the civilian population. Their statements are contradicted by the fact that the current economic crisis was caused by the devastation in those sectors of the Syrian economy that are targeted by new sanctions.
There is a situation in which the Syrian government is trying to get rid of the terrorists in their country by bombing and destroying their fortifications and bases in cities, and the new US policy towards Syria is more like the slogan “Assad — or we will burn the country.” Only now the president of the Arab Republic is looking for opportunities and taking measures to restore Syria, the Americans are just strangling the Syrian people.
The Syrian government last week condemned the law, saying the United States would “bear primary responsibility for the suffering of the Syrian people.” About 80% of Syrians already live below the poverty line. The purchasing power of their money fell to the limit, and the Syrian pound fell to a record low against the dollar. From war, isolation and impending sanctions, the situation will only get worse. This sharp drop has affected life in all regions of Syria, including in the north-eastern part of the country, where the main US allies in Syria, the Kurds, are based.
With the entry into force of sanctions, doing business with Syria will become even more difficult and risky, and the economic and humanitarian sphere will come to a complete collapse.