The US Senate yesterday approved a Pentagon budget worth $738 billion, which includes the authorisation of harsh new sanctions on Syria, Iran and Russia due to war crimes the three countries committed in the Syrian conflict.
The bipartisan vote, which won 86-6 in the Republican-dominated Senate, is to ensure that the sanctions on Syrian regime officials, civilian and military leaders, and anyone associated with them who participated in atrocities are implemented within six months.
The authorisation of the bill, which is known as the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act 2019, was also added to the “must pass” defence spending bill for this year.
Numerous sanctions have been imposed on all of the three countries by the US throughout previous years, but this bill is noted on being significantly broad and extensive in its potential targeting of other groups such as the mercenary groups contracted by the trio’s militaries.
Even energy companies intending to take part in the redevelopment of Syria’s oil and energy sector are thought to be liable to the sanctions, as well as firms which provide aircrafts and those that loan money to the Syrian regime for its reconstruction projects.
The Caesar Bill – named after the pseudonym of the former Syrian police photographer who escaped the regime and exposed over 50,000 photographs of bloodied, bruised and disfigured torture victims – is thought to play a significant role in hindering the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in its quest to convince donors and investors to reconstruct the war-torn country and the areas under its control.
The bill was previously proposed by Caesar in 2014 as he testified before US Congress, but was stalled until finally being implemented this week.
Representative for Arkansas state French Hill, who met with Caesar earlier this year as he began to lobby for the bill again, stated: “We’ve never had something this strongly passed into law by the Congress…there’s no doubt that can have an impact.”
As the Assad regime, alongside Russian and Iranian forces, continues in its campaign to recapture territory from the Syrian opposition groups, there are some other countries who are considering helping rebuild regime-held areas, including Gulf states and China.