A bipartisan group of US lawmakers have introduced the “Assad Anti-Normalization Act” bill that seeks to hold the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his supporters accountable for their crimes against the Syrian people and deter normalization with the regime.
“Assad, and his Russian and Iranian backers, continue to commit horrific acts against the Syrian people and undermine regional security,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul, who submitted the bill, said in a statement on Thursday.
“They must be held accountable for these crimes, not welcomed back unconditionally by the international community.”
The bill bars the US government from recognizing any Syrian government under Assad or normalizing ties with him.
If passed, the legislation would require a five-year annual strategy to counter normalization with the Assad regime. It would also prohibit any federal government agencies from recognizing Assad or normalizing with him.
The legislation will require an immediate review of Caesar Act sanctions for any grants of $50k or more to Syria and a report into the United Nations assistance that has gone to Syria which has gone to the benefit of the Assad regime.
The bill moves to expand the Caesar Act to include sanctions against the members of Syria’s People’s Assembly and their immediate family members, as well as those who provide them with support, along with senior officials of the Arab Socialist Baath Party in Syria.
It further determined Asma al-Assad’s charity the “Syria Trust for Development.”
The legislation would also pave the way for sanctions to be imposed on airports that allow landings by Syrian Arab Airlines.
State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel declined to comment on pending legislation. But he said Washington has been very clear it does not seek to normalize relations with Assad's government and would not support its allies and other partners doing so either.
The introduction of the bill came after Syria’s readmission to the Arab League, which had suspended Syria’s membership in 2011. It also coincides with Turkish-Syrian talks to normalize ties between Damascus and Ankara.
In this context, the foreign ministers of Türkiye and Syria agreed on Wednesday in a meeting in Moscow - which is the first since 2011 – on putting a roadmap that aims to normalize ties between both countries.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the Syrian minister, Faisal Al-Mikdad, the Turkish minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and Iran’s Hossein Amirabdollahian, had asked their deputies to “devise a roadmap to strengthen relations between Türkiye and Syria, in coordination between the ministries of defense and intelligence in the four countries.”
The statement added that this decision was taken during a meeting in Moscow that was held in a “positive and constructive atmosphere.”
According to the Russian Foreign Minister, this map will allow Damascus and Ankara to “clearly define their positions on issues of priority to them” with the aim of “recovering the Syrian government’s control over the entire territory of the country and to firmly guarantee the security of the border with Türkiye,” which is 900 kilometers long.
“It is also important to note the restoration of logistical ties that were severed between the two neighboring countries and the resumption of economic cooperation without any obstacles,” Lavrov added.