President Trump today extended the ‘National Emergency Declaration’ related to Syria, which has existed since 2004 and was initially imposed related to the US occupation of neighboring Iraq. The declaration claims Syria’s government an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the United States and allows the president to impose certain unilateral actions against them, mostly sanctions.
While previous extensions have mostly come and gone with little fanfare, President Trump really played up the idea, declaring the Assad government to be a “brutal regime” and rehashing previous US allegations that they’d used chemical weapons.
While Trump’s statement suggested more sanctions are to be imposed soon, as with previous such declarations the reality is that the US already has such comprehensive sanctions in place on the Syrian government there is very little more that could conceivably be done.
US law grants the president massive unilateral “emergency” power if he informs Congress that a nation poses an “unusual and extraordinary threat,” and the virtual lack of oversight means that it has become neither unusual nor extraordinary for presidents to pin this label on every nation that they decide is an enemy.
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