Despite the fierce rhetoric, Caesar's Syria sanctions have been violated



The Trump administration last week promised a “continuing campaign of economic and political pressure” on the Syrian regime as it unveils new sanctions to isolate President Bashar al-Assad and force the UN-brokered peace talks.


Despite Caesar's fierce rhetoric about his new powers under the Syria Civil Security Act, so far, US action has been limited and has killed Syrian civilians, at least in the short term.

Of the 39 individuals and organizations that were approved in the first wave, the US said it was "Summer Caesar", a number that was already high on the US sanctions list, including Mr. Assad and Syrian businessman Muhammad Hanshi. Of the new targets, only nine were approved using Caesar's law, including companies registered in Austria and Canada. The rest were recruited using executive orders.

While US hackers have declared that Washington's expanded grant powers of the Caesar Act will help Washington crush Mr. Assad and ultimately make him responsible for war crimes, other observers have looked further.

Syria has been "angry" with US presidents for some time, said Emil Hochem, a senior fellow at Middle East Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Neither Obama nor Trump paid much attention. So we came out with a lot of tricks, but not a broader approach."

After the 2011 coup, the US helped the rebels trying to overthrow Mr. Assad. But Washington has reduced funding, suppressed right-wing groups and Syrian extremists have become Islamists. Hundreds of US troops are still in the US-led anti-ISIS coalition in northeastern Syria, where it is partnered with a semi-autonomous Kurdish-led administration. But US policy must be reduced to dismantling the Assad regime by freezing assets, restricting travel, and blocking access to the dollar-based economy.


The most obvious change from previous rounds of sanctions last week was the decision to include the widows and children of formerly allotted wives, including First Lady Asma al-Assad, which has already been approved by the European Union.

Those statutes were not made under the Caesar Act. However, Ibrahim Olabi, a lawyer and founder of the Syrian Legal Development Program at Guernica 37 Chambers, said it was important for the US to recognize "children.". A benign vehicle to remove those restrictions ”.

The real power of the Caesar Act is that it enables Washington to target companies involved in the energy and manufacturing industries, dominating the regime, without proving direct involvement with other approved individuals or individuals.

Such regional policy "lowers the bar," according to Joel Rayburn, US deputy assistant secretary for the Levant affairs and Syria special envoy. Instead of proving that a company is dealing with governance, "we have to prove that a company or individual is investing in that area," Rayburn said. The US said the strategy specifically targets the development of luxury built by the ruling allies on illegally seized land.


The law allows the US to ban non-Syrian companies or individuals who meet this standard, keeping potential foreign investors from countries like the UAE on the line of fire. US ally UAE has maintained diplomatic relations with Damascus since 2018 and sent trade representatives to Syria.

In fact, there are international investments so far in the rebuilding of Syria as the nine-year-long war continues.

Insiders of the regime did not feel the first and greatest impact of the Caesar law, but the prices were so high that ordinary Syrians and the threat of sanctions shook the country's currency market.

"With Caesar's law, we all expect the poor to be humiliated before the rich," said a shopkeeper in the province of South Syria under the Suveda regime, which announced commodity prices. Wednesday was banned.

Basma Aloha, an advocate consultant for the Syrian Policy and Norwegian Refugee Council, who lives in the US, said the use of Caesar should intensify to further reduce Syria's smoking economy. “The Caesar law says to protect the people of Syria. . . Where's the security part of that? "

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