US lawmakers propose bill to ban ties with Syria, expand Caesar Act
The proposal would call for “an annual strategy for five years to counter normalization” with Syria by the countries that have shown initiative to develop ties.
US lawmakers Reps. Joe Wilson and Steve Cohen, alongside several other members of the House, introduced a bill on Thursday to ban the United States from normalizing diplomatic ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and even impose sanctions on the regional countries that do.
The bill, which comes amid Syria’s readmission to the Arab League, would ban “any federal government department or agency from recognizing or normalizing with any government in Syria led by Bashar al-Assad,” and broaden the Caesar Act that imposed sanctions on Syria back in 2020.
The proposal would call for “an annual strategy for five years to counter normalization” with Syria by the countries which have shown initiative to develop ties.
Read more: Russia lays out a roadmap for Syria-Turkey ties normalization
On the bill and in his statement, Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “The United States must use all of our leverage to stop normalization with Assad,” adding, “I am proud to join my colleagues in mandating further sanctions against any form of investment in territory under the control of Assad."
A senior US congressional staffer working on the bill was cited by media as saying that the bipartisan bill was a warning to Turkey and Arab nations of severe consequences in case they engaged with Syria.
"The readmission of Syria to the Arab League really infuriated (Congress) members and made clear the need to quickly act to send a signal," the staffer highlighted.
A Bloomberg report considered the #ArabLeague states' decision to reinstate #Syria to the bloc comes "in defiance of US warnings" and that this step reflects #America’s waning influence in the region. pic.twitter.com/rt2ErlpKr9— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) May 8, 2023
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz invited the Syrian President to participate in an Arab League summit scheduled in the country next week on May 19.
The Syrian President considered that the summit "will enhance joint Arab action to achieve the aspirations of the Arab peoples," the statement indicated.
The Kingdom severed ties with the Syrian government in 2012. However, in April, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with Al-Assad in Damascus on the first such visit since the war broke out.