Skip to main content

Could Congress' latest Syria sanctions bill backfire?

The congressional bill will exacerbate the economic situation in Syria and ultimately increase Syria’s dependency on Iran.
Read in 

Recently, both chambers of the US Congress passed the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill is supposed “to hold Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies accountable for war crimes in Syria.” (The name "Caesar" was used by a person who secretly documented acts of torture by the regime). Within this framework, the bill “applies sanctions to those who lend support to the Assad regime’s military efforts in the Syrian civil war” and will allow foreign companies to be targeted if they start operating in Syria. This new legislation, signed by President Donald Trump, is likely to cripple the Syrian economy by disconnecting it from any international monetary institution, preventing the implementation of any legitimate private initiatives in the country and by blocking almost completely Syria's return to the Arab world.

This bill is clearly perceived by many in Washington as an appropriate response to the actions of the currently victorious, yet notorious and cruel, Assad regime. It represents the approach of those in the United States who see punitive sanctions as a goal in itself and not as a tool intended to serve realistic purposes — such as decreasing the Iranian military presence or promoting political reform that would lead to the integration of Kurds in the Syrian political system.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.