House Hawks Urge Biden To Use Sanctions To Prevent Syria Normalization
Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee released a statement on Monday slamming Syria’s readmission into the Arab League and urging President Biden to use sanctions to prevent further normalization.
"Readmitting Assad to the Arab League is a grave strategic mistake that will embolden Assad, Russia, and Iran to continue butchering civilians and destabilizing the Middle East," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said.
"The United States must fully enforce the Caesar Act and other sanctions to freeze normalization efforts with this war criminal," the lawmakers added.
The Caesar Act imposed crushing economic sanctions on Syria in 2020 that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction. The measures have had a devastating impact on Syria’s civilians. The House recently voted overwhelmingly to keep enforcing sanctions following a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of Syrians.
What makes the Caesar Act sanctions so sweeping is that they allow the US to sanction any person or entity for doing business with the Syrian government.
This means US allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which spearheaded the effort to bring Syria back into the fold, could potentially be targeted. On Tuesday, Syria and Saudi Arabia announced they were reestablishing diplomatic ties for the first time in over 10 years.
The State Department has denounced Syria’s readmission to the Arab League. "We do not believe that Syria merits readmission to the Arab League at this time," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Monday. "We continue to believe that we will not normalize our relations with the Assad regime, and we don’t support our allies and partners doing so either."
It was November 12, 2011 when #Syria was suspended from the Arab League— EHSANI22 (@EHSANI221) May 7, 2023
That was barely 8 months after the crisis started
Original goal of the suspension was to isolate the regime “economically, diplomatically and politically."
12 years later, the regime is still around pic.twitter.com/GxqrGIt6DG
On top of the crippling sanctions, the US has about 900 troops in eastern Syria and backs the Kurdish-led SDF, allowing the US to control about one-third of the country, where most of its oil resources are located. Syria’s normalization with its neighbors could complicate the US’s plans to keep occupying the country.