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The Caesar Act: As Coronavirus spreads worldwide, including in the Middle East, the Trump Administration piles on the sanctions against Syria.

June 24, 2020

The M-4 Highway (in red) in Syria; the battle to control the section from Aleppo to Latakia on the coast continues continues..

As Coronavirus spreads worldwide, including in the Middle East, the Trump Administration piles on the sanctions against Syria. With little to no national publicity States’ side, what is called the “Caesar Act” took effect last week. With a foreign policy in the Third World that can be summed up by drone killings, sanctions and spectacular but irrelevant Special Forces operations, what is missing from U.S. Middle East policy is anything approaching a plan – be it a Plan “A” or a Plan “B.”

I wish I could tell you that Syria is being rewarded for resisting terrorists and because we have returned to peace and security through blood and sacrifice that we are now able to rebuild and resume our lives

Among friends here in Colorado, we used to say visavis Washington’s (both Democratic and Republican Administrations) Syria policy that that there was “no Plan B,” meaning that if their plans to overthrow Assad and partition Syria, either de jure or de facto, that Washington had no back up plan. But these days neither does a “Plan A” exist.

But, we cannot rebuild, and cannot live a normal life.

U.S. policy towards Syria is characterized by a lack of vision, it is defensive in nature, and is limited to just slowing the progress of the changing balance of forces in the region and sore losers that they are, exacting as much pain on their opponents as possible to make the price of Syrian victory and U.S. strategic defeat a very high one indeed.

The United States government and the European Union have place sanctions on Syria which prevent importing any medical machines, prevent importing medicines, prevent importing parts and machines for factories, prevent any and all items necessary to rebuild Syrian homes, shops, factories, schools, and hospitals.

It is in this environment that “The Caesar Act” became functional.

We are surviving on local fruits and vegetables and meat, but we cannot import anything whatsoever to do farm work. No tractors, no farm machinery, and no specialty supplies to grow foods.

It’s formal title is “H.R. 31 – Caesar Syria Protection act of 2019“, a title which is the diametrical opposite to what the title suggests. Sponsored by Rep. Eliot R. Engel (D-NY-16) along with 57 bipartisan co-sponsors, it went into effect just last week on June 17. It’s basically a bill meant to punish Syria for defeating ISIS and the like liberating most of its country from foreign terrorists, although a large concentration remains in Syria’s northwest Idlib Province.

The US-supported terrorists destroyed my home in 2014, and I still can not repair it, because the US-EU refuses to allow me and my neighbors to import necessary items that we can not make with our own hands. Don’t try to blame Trump with this, because the US Congress backed him up, and those are Democrats as well as Republicans.

A 52 page act, like the previous sanctions Congress has voted against Syria since 2011, these latest US sanctions have no moral value whatsoever. To the contrary, it can be argued, that according to international law, they are nothing less than war crimes meant to bring the Damascus government to its knees.

Having failed to achieve this militarily, Washington hopes to accomplish this through economic strangulation. The main idea behind drafting “Caesar’s Act” is to exercise political pressure and tp engage in psychological warfare on Syria, because most of the measures contained in this act have already been previously imposed on the Syrian Arab Republic.

Also, the European Union marched in step with the US. This is not created by Trump, this is all of the American people, who are the ones who control the US Congress, and all the Europeans, who are the ones who control the European Union.

Given its timing, this new round of sanctions also has as a goal to throw a monkey wrench in the Syrian government’s coming offensive to wipe out the last stronghold of Moslem Brotherhood and Salafist mercenary presence in Syria’s northwest Idlib Province and to drive this terrorist presence from the country.

Because of the sanctions, our currency has devalued. We used to be 1 dollar equals 50 Syrian Lira. It rose to 4,000 Lira to 1 dollar. Imagine a dinner for 2 for $50.00. Now, imagine you go back to the same place and that dinner for 2 is now $4,000.00. Can you afford it, when your salary is the same, or your job is lost because of COVID-19? This is my life now in Syria. We are suffering.

It won’t work.

We are good, decent people, who have never done anything bad to USA or EU. We just want to live life and rebuild our homes. The US and EU sanctions are causing hunger and suffering in Syria. It is a real shame on the American and European people. You are well aware of what suffering you have caused in Syria, but you prefer to dwell on your own problems and not accept responsibility for your role in my suffering.

Lilly Martin, June 23, 2020, Latakia, Syria

Washington has lost in Syria but it continues to do what it can to destroy the Assad government which has grown stronger all the time. U.S. policy towards Syria – no vision..defensive in nature, just slow the progress of the changing balance of forces in the region and the total expulsion of foreign military forces, be they Islamic mercenaries, Turkey or the U.S from their territory.

H.R. 31 speaks to an American- Israel-UK-French and several Arab countries failure to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, and partition the country as outlined in the 2012 Doha Protocols. The bill is also their refusal to acknowledge defeat in this effort to accomplish in Syria what was done in Iraq and Libya. The Caesar Act is also aimed at Lebanon, Iraq and particularly Iran with a goal of reducing solidarity with the Syrian government in its effort to defeat U.S. backed mercenary terrorists, Turkey and Israel… to delay Syria’s final victory over its enemies and restore its geographic integrity.

Since the 2011 war in Syria began, much more of a foreign invasion than a civil war as portrayed here in the USA, the US government has issued eight executive orders to impose or tighten economic, commercial and banking unilateral measures on Syria. H.R. 31 is designed to prevent companies and countries from opening diplomatic channels with Syria, and to prevent them from contributing to reconstruction, investment, and the provision of spare parts for the energy and en aviation sectors in Syria.

These sanctions also affect the Syrian central bank, freezing the assets of individuals who deal with Syria and invalidating any visa to America. Named after a Syrian photographer before Congress whose testimony about supposed Syrian government terror is highly suspect, while tightening the vice on the Syrian economy, the Caesar Act especially targets Syrians neighbors and regional allies – Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

Who will abide by this law, and what are its consequences for Syria, Lebanon, and the countries that stand beside Syria?

The goal of the sanctions, amounting to a US economic blockade imposed on Syria and other countries, is to prevent any country that is subject to what the United Nations defines as unilateral coercive economic measures from free and sustainable access to the global banking system and free trade without restrictions or obstacles.

The U.S and Europe openly stated that their economic blockade against Syria will apply until the the day the Syrian state succumbs to their political, economic and military blackmail. The goals – to overthrow the Assad government and to partition Syria remain in tact. Despite claiming that sanctions hurt the Syrian government, Washington and its European allies have long known that, to the contrary, that “this blockade directly affects health, banking and education sectors, as well as communications, transportation, electricity and basic services sectors, and every sector that relates directly to the daily details of the life of the Syrian citizen.”

At the time of this writing, beyond the Caesar Act, adding more fuel to the fire, the sanction crazy Trump Administration is taking its anti-Syria sanctions policy to that much more of an extreme. After failing to deliver on its own threats to stop the five Iranian oil tanker delivery to Venezuela, the Trump Administration has now imposed sanctions against the captains of the five oil tankers which delivered petroleum and petroleum products to Venezuela.. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the new sanctions against the captains of Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel oil tankers and went on to threaten action “against any party that cooperates with either Iran or Venezuela.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas M. Rauch permalink
    June 24, 2020 9:30 pm

    Rob, Is the U.S. any less corrupt than the dictatorships we’ve been “saving the world from” since the Spanish-American War — or perhaps earlier? And I finally realized—late learner that I am– that the Democratic Party is is too committed to wealth and power to bring about any significant change—unless Bernie and Elizabeth could run things. Hope you and Nancy are well. We are very pleased with our new home at Springbrooke. Ros Goldfield lived here the final years of her life, and I was very impressed with it when i visited her. Maybe I’ll rejoin the book club one of these months, but times keeps going faster and my 89-year old body has less and less energy as the days go by. Thanks so very much for your thoughtful and provocative Views from the Left Bank.

    Peace, Tom


    • June 24, 2020 9:39 pm

      Hello Dear Tom!

      Corruption from what I can tell is universal. Doesn’t seem to matter how society is organized.. But the bigger and more powerful the country, the more intense the corruption is how it looks to me. I can’t prove that… it’s just an observation.

      As for the Democratic Party after Bernie S ended his campaign, I gave up on them. There is no viable alternative today to the Dems (from the Left) but we were both fed up and left and registered independent. With Sanders’ ending his campaign, the wind dissipated from the movement to reform it. We were both disappointed that he did so – but frankly not all that surprised. What an enigma is the Democratic Party! Here in Colorado and in many other places, the base remains vibrant, progressive, human ready and willing to confront climate change, the nuclear arms race, etc. But the leadership is so – as you aptly put it – “committed to wealth and power” – and I would add, completely in control.

      Am so glad that you both are happy in your new situation and know any time you want to return to the book club we’d all be so pleased…

      Peace to you too Tom.

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