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How will America’s Caesar Act impact Lebanon?

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which the US president signed into law recently, sends a clear message to the Syrian government’s political and economic backers in Lebanon, but analysts say its impact may be less forceful.

In a long-awaited moment for Syrian human rights advocates, US President Donald Trump signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, into law on Dec. 20. First introduced in 2014, the law was the result of testimony given to Congress by a Syrian government defector codenamed Caesar, the law’s namesake. Caesar left Syria in 2013 with a trove of tens of thousands of photographs documenting mass torture and death in Syrian government prisons and has implored the US lawmakers to pass the law, which would punish the perpetrators of these crimes. 

The law is notable in that it aims to hold not only governments but also individuals responsible for financially supporting the Syrian regime, Russia or Iran in military activities, reconstruction efforts and human rights abuses in Syria, and opens the door for foreign business owners to face sanctions for any connections to the pro-Assad bloc.

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