Caesar Act has domestic, international support: US envoy for Syria

There is widespread domestic and international support for the economic sanctions issued by the United States against the Syrian regime and its allies, a senior US diplomat said Wednesday.

After overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats, US President Donald Trump signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also referred to as the Caesar Act, six months ago. The legislation, which went into effect Wednesday, looks to cut off all forms of revenue from reaching Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its allies.

It also threatens to impose sanctions on anyone who does business with the Assad regime.

“This act has the highest level of bipartisan support [in Congress and Senate], supported by the president and the entire administration. Washington is fully united,” US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey said in a phone briefing with reporters.

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Jeffrey's remarks followed multiple statements by the US government and administration. He said that the Caesar Act was part of the US policy to use all possible means to compel Assad to support peaceful change in its policies toward the yearslong conflict.

US elections will not affect the sanctions

In an interview with Al Arabiya English, US diplomat Adam Ereli said that the case of Syria is not similar to that of Iran, where the future could differ depending on which US candidate wins the November elections.

"There is a bipartisan consensus, in other words, Democrats and Republicans both agree that Bashar al-Assad is a really bad guy and that he and his backers, Iran and Russia, have brought historic, unprecedented, and savage suffering to the Syrian people," Ereli said.

"It's not like Iran for example where Obama negotiated a nuclear deal, Trump got out of it, and if Biden got elected there would be a likelihood of a renewed opening with Iran. I don't see that happening with Syria," he added.

International support

Asked about international support for the new law, Jeffrey said feedback from European countries has been “very strong.” He added that whether or not countries comply with US requests for information depends on their own laws and policy positions.

The only state that sanctions were levied upon was the Syrian government. “We have ways to make it difficult for those people to have access to their money,” Jeffrey said, citing denial of access to the US banking system and a block on trips to the US for those sanctioned.

Jeffrey also touched on the United Arab Emirates’ policy towards Syria and its decision to reopen its embassy in Damascus.

“The UAE knows that we are absolutely opposed” to it taking these diplomatic steps, Jeffrey said, but noted the UAE has sovereignty to do what it wanted.

The US official said that anyone doing business with the Assad regime – regardless of their nationality – if they met criteria to be sanctioned, would be targeted. “We won’t get into who will or won’t be” designated, he said.

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Last Update: Thursday, 18 June 2020 KSA 14:10 - GMT 11:10
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