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US foreign policy

US says it will not ease pressure on Syria after UAE criticism of Caesar Act

“To keep the Caesar Act as it is today makes this path very difficult for us as a nation and for the private sector,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

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The United States signaled Tuesday that it would not ease up on its stance toward Syria, hours after the top UAE diplomat implicitly criticized US sanctions that aim to cut off funds to the Assad regime.

Under the Trump administration, Washington enacted the Caesar Act in an effort to prevent foreign entities or nations from taking part in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s reconstruction plans.

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Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed made his comments after meeting Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. “To keep the Caesar Act as it is today makes this path very difficult for us as a nation and for the private sector,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

These sanctions aimed to force Assad to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, specifically UNSCR 2254, which calls for a political transition to end the yearslong war.

As a result of the Assad regime’s gross violations and crimes against humanity, including using chemical weapons against civilians, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in 2011.

“The bigger challenge facing coordination and working with Syria today is the Caesar Act,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UAE's Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 9, 2021. (AP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UAE's Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 9, 2021. (AP)

In 2018, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus. It has been hindered from doing more diplomatically or in terms of reconstruction due to the Caesar Act.

Asked about Sheikh Abdullah’s remarks, a US State Department official told Al Arabiya English that the only way to achieve stability in Syria and the region was through a political process “that represents the will of all Syrians.”

“We are committed to working with allies, partners, and the UN to ensure that a durable political solution remains within reach,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Assad has been accused of blocking humanitarian aid to the Syrian people while using dwindling state funds for personal gains.

“It is imperative for the regime and its supporters to engage seriously in political dialogue and allow humanitarian assistance to reach communities in need in order to achieve a sustainable end to the Syrian people’s suffering,” the State Department official said.

Read more:

New sanctions on Syria: Everything you need to know about the Caesar Act

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