Syrian Regime Depends on Allies to Overcome Caesar Act
Damascus residents fear that US plans to pass the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act into law may further worsen their already deteriorating living conditions, but regime loyalists are downplaying the bill and saying that the country will overcome it with the help of allies and a policy of resilience.
The Caesar Act is a US legislation that sanctions the Syrian regime, including its head, Bashar al-Assad, for war crimes against the Syrian population.
“People are currently only interested in securing a living,” Ahmed, a private sector worker, told Asharq Al-Awsat, stressing that matters will worsen as the war-torn country’s currency continues to slide against the dollar.
“The dollar is at 1,850 Syrian pounds and it will continue to drop.”
“Living has become more difficult, and what is available today may be lost tomorrow with the implementation of the law, and therefore it is frightening for people, and it can be seen everywhere,” he added.
Israa, a public sector worker, shared Ahmed’s fears and said: “People are terrified, they are barely living these days and it will get worse after passing the law.”
Ismail, a resident of one of Damascus’ regime-backing neighborhoods, wonders if the US is after punishing civilians for supporting the president and the regime.
Somar, a hardline regime loyalist, said that the US is looking to quash Syria’s military victories and to deny Russia gaining foot in the war-ravaged country.
Unlike the others, Somar seemed optimistic towards the country’s ability to overcome the repercussions of the law - if passed - with the help of Iran and Russia.
“The regime thinks that its military victories will help keep it in power, especially with other countries negotiating the recognition of its legitimacy and shares in Syria’s reconstruction, but it did not account for the Caesar Act being used as a trump card,” Syrian opposition activist Mahmoud told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Mahmoud explained that the bill will allow for diplomatic efforts to prevail from a current standstill, despite holding Syrians responsible for the regime’s transgressions.
A number of Syrian operated industries, including those related to infrastructure, military maintenance and energy production, are targeted by the bill.
It also targets individuals and businesses who provide funding or assistance to Assad. Iranian and Russian entities are addressed for their governments' support of Assad in the Syrian war.
The legislation imposes fresh sanctions on entities conducting business with the Syrian government and its military and intelligence agencies. It also aims to encourage negotiations by allowing the US president to waive sanctions if the parties are engaged in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians has ceased.