The United States is coordinating with major Arab partners, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, about what to do to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict, a senior US official told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.
Washington announced its second round of sanctions against the Syrian regime, including designating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s son and the First Division of the Syrian Arab Army.
Rather than protect Syrian citizens, the army played a pivotal role in arbitrarily detaining, torturing and murdering thousands of Syrians, US officials said Wednesday.
The sanctions will continue in what US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn said is the “Summer of Caesar.”
Last month, the US sanctioned Assad, his wife and his younger brother in the first batch of sanctions under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also known as the Caesar Act.
The latest US sanctions were named the “Hama and Maarat al-Numan sanctions,” referring to the 2011 and 2019 killings and sieges of both towns by the Assad regime.
Asked by Al Arabiya English if there was coordination between the US and its Arab and Gulf partners over Syria, Rayburn said Washington was in “very close coordination with our Arab partners on the Syrian conflict.”
Rayburn cited the Small Group on Syria, which brings together the US, France, United Kingdom and Germany alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
“We are in near-continuous discussion with major Arab partners about what we need to do together to try to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict,” the US official said during a briefing with journalists.
Rayburn also touched on a waiver request from the Lebanese government, which seeks to continue dealing with Syria to help its dilapidated electricity grid.
A decision has not been made, “but the bar would be very high for us” to consider allowing a waiver that significantly benefited the Assad regime, Rayburn said.
Lebanon has submitted a request to Washington, a senior Lebanese official previously confirmed to Al Arabiya English. “It will take time,” the official said, confident that a waiver would be granted.
“The Assad regime is not the answer to Lebanon’s electricity difficulties,” Rayburn said, adding that Lebanon would need “some significant head-to-toe reform” if it wanted to deliver basic electricity needs.