There has been increasing talk about the imminent enforcing of what is known as "the Caesar Act," by the United States of America to pressure the Assad regime.
"The Caesar Act, which will come into effect next June to help end the conflict in Syria by strengthening accountability of the Assad regime," the State Department spokesperson Geraldine Griffiths said in previous media statements.
What is Caesar's Act?
On December 20, 2019, US President Donald Trump signed an act to impose sanctions on the Assad regime and its supporters for war crimes they committed in the country, according to the US administration.
The act is part of the US defense budget bill for 2020, of $ 738 billion, passed by the Senate.
It includes imposing sanctions on the Assad regime, and its most important military, security and political symbols, in addition to the international supporters, especially the Russian army in Syria, the Iranian paramilitary forces that help the Assad government, as well as energy companies that work in the Syrian oil sector.
The act includes imposing sanctions on foreigners involved in some financial or technical transactions for the institutions of the Syrian government, military contractors and forces fighting on behalf of the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, or anyone who has been penalized by Syria previously. Everyone who provides financial or technical support or information that helps repair or expand Syria’s domestic production of gas and oil or its derivatives and provides aircraft and its spares or related services to the aviation sector for military targets in Syria.
It also imposes sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations.
The Act defines a group of a suggested characters for sanctions, including the president Bashar al-Assad and his deputy, commanders of the land, naval, and intelligence forces, and officials in the Ministry of Interior from the Political Security, Intelligence, and Police Department, as well as leaders of the Fourth Division and the Republican Guard, prisons officials, and heads of the security branches .
The legislation was called the “Caesar Act to Protect Syrian Civilians,” the name of the former Syrian military cameraman nicknamed “Caesar,” who managed to smuggle thousands of photos of torture victims.
"Caesar" presented the photos to a listening committee in the Congress, while an international investigation team was formed to discuss war crimes and to ensure the authenticity of the photos.
What does Washington want from Caesar?
On the goals of the United States of America from these sanctions, the former Pentagon writer and official Michael Robin affirmed in an interview with Hawar news agency, "Democrats and Republicans alike are disgusted with Bashar al-Assad's attacks on civilians. Whether this bill becomes an Act per se or is included within the "approval of National Defense" Act - it is symbolic, but it also aims to prevent American money from flowing to al-Assad when the international community turns to the reconstruction of Syria.
"The issue under discussion now is tens of billions of dollars that the United Nations and other international organizations will spend on the reconstruction of Syria. Bashar al-Assad is the president of Syria, and the United Nations relationship is usually with the government. This Act will mean that the American money that was donated with the United Nations or any other place cannot go to the Syrian government. The US Congress does not want to reward al-Assad for the atrocities he committed."
"Caesar damages on the guarantors of the Astana path"
Russia managed to control important areas of Syrian territory after it formed a new path for the Syrian crisis under the name "Astana" to be an alternative to the Geneva one.
Russia has sought to re-float the Syrian government by normalizing relations with a number of Arab and foreign countries.
Reports talked during the last period about the restoration of relations between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Arab and Western countries, but that was stopped due to an American refusal.
Caesar’s Act aspires to block all these moves seeking to deal with or support the Syrian government economically.
On this, the Syrian researcher and political analyst Samer Al-Khelwi said in an interview with Hawar news agency that Caesar’s Act is not directed specifically to the sponsoring countries in Astana, but it can be used with any country or alliance that may not be satisfactory to the United States.
He explained that America can, through Caesar's Act, intervene and control the interests of other countries on the pretext that these countries violate this Act, and he said: "Therefore we can say that the Act is a means to achieve American goals and not to weaken or overthrow the regime because there are indeed US and Western sanctions against the Assad regime that did not lead to its toppling."
Sanctions Show US weakness in the Syrian File
As for the Ph. professor in political science at the University of Lausanne, Joseph Zahir, he had another opinion. He believes that these sanctions show the relative weakness of the United States in the Syrian file, especially with regard to the influence of Russia, Iran, and Turkey inside Syria, where the United States wants to withdraw gradually from Syria militarily and politically. Therefore, it used it as a penal weapon.
He explained, "America does not consider Syria a priority as it can interfere from abroad to prevent the expansion of Iran and its allies in Syria. Moreover, even in this case, this goal is delegated to Israel."
"Government forces and Turkey's mercenaries should be concerned"
As for the groups that will be affected by these sanctions, Michael Rubin explained, "If the Act is directed against violators of human rights, it is the Assad regime and the Syrian forces backed by Turkey who should be concerned."
The results of this Act
Regarding its results, the Syrian researcher and political analyst Samer Al-Khelwi said, "There will be a little influence on the Assad regime if America is serious and sincere in punishing it. But I believe that America wants to control and direct the Assad regime so that it is compatible with its interests and goals. So what matters to America is its interest and Israel in the first place and the interest of its allies in the second degree."
As for Joseph Zahir, and despite his downplaying the impact of sanctions, he believes that it should be recognized that the Caesar bill may contribute to the intensification of social and economic problems in Syria, and the sanctions group can participate in the consolidation of the impoverishment of some segments in Syria, and represents another obstacle to economic recovery in the future.
He explained that "the entrenchment of broad public sanctions against Syria, through the Caesar bill will significantly affect the restoration of industrial and agricultural activities, which were already affected by the current sanctions of the United States and the European Union, and that limited reconstruction efforts are also likely to be hindered because the bill targets the construction and engineering services sectors."
The repercussions of sanctions on the northeast of Syria
In light of the near implementation of Caesar's Act, there have been many analyzes on its effects on the northeast of Syria. Zahir says, "There are no clear effects on northeast of Syria on the economic level. Foreign countries will not invest huge funds in this region anyway because they are subject to threats from Turkey and the regime alike. "
On his part, Samer Al-Khelwi said, "Northeast regions of Syria will not be affected by the Act since it is directed against al-Assad, his allies and supporters, and not against those who oppose al-Assad."
( A )