US sanctions stifle rapprochement between Syria, Arab countries
Anticipated additional economic sanctions on Syria have led to the Arab League's special committee freezing contacts with Damascus.
The United States has taken a series of economic measures aimed at deterring Arab nations' efforts to reengage with Damascus, causing the Arab League's special committee to halt contacts with Syria, Sputnik reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
This move comes despite Syria's readmission to the organization earlier this year. The Arab League committee, established in May with the primary objective of seeking a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis, has reportedly frozen all its contacts with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This decision has effectively stalled further steps toward supporting Syria, a nation grappling with a devastated economy due to direct pressure from the United States, according to the source.
Saudi Arabia initially spearheaded regional efforts to renew engagement with Syria after a 12-year period of cutting ties.
Kuwait, Qatar, and Morocco initially displayed reluctance but later joined in welcoming Syria back into the Arab League, all in hopes of contributing to the country's economic recovery and stabilizing the situation within its borders. Consequently, in May of this year, the League of Arab States reinstated Syria's membership.
However, the promise of financial support for Syria and plans for post-war reconstruction has been hampered by the United States' Caesar Act sanctions and the anticipated 2023 Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act.
The latter may extend the authority of the US administration to impose sanctions on those collaborating with Syria, further complicating matters. The anticipated investments from Arab countries have thus far failed to materialize, leaving Syria's economic recovery in jeopardy.
The source underlined that the obstacles to supporting Syria were multifaceted, encompassing technical, diplomatic, and political challenges brought about by the US Caesar Act and other sanctions against Syria.
American and European sanctions have been imposed on Syria ever since the onset of the war. US sanctions, specifically, include an embargo and extend their impact to third parties. In 2020, US secondary sanctions were expanded with the implementation of the Caesar Act, which was signed into law by then-President Donald Trump in 2019.
The Caesar Act is strategically designed to discourage support for reconstruction efforts led by the Syrian government. It imposes sanctions on individuals or entities providing funding or assistance to the Syrian government and its central bank. The legislation targets those involved in supplying aircraft or spare parts to Syrian airlines and those participating in construction and engineering projects.
US lawmakers submitted the Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act to Congress in May 2023, seeking to amend the Caesar Act and further broaden sanctions against individuals or organizations providing financial and technological support to Syrian groups and enterprises. This legislative action has extended the US government's authority to impose sanctions until the end of 2025, with the potential for further extension through 2032 if the new legislation is adopted.