New US sanctions on Syria are set to take effect Wednesday as the Arab nation is already struggling to rebuild from the nine-year civil war that shattered the country. US sanctions are already impeding the reconstruction effort, and some fear the new measures will only make a bad situation worse for Syrian civilians.
US and EU sanctions on Syria have already frozen the assets of the state and hundreds of companies and individuals. The sanctions also prohibit Americans from exporting anything to Syria and bar US citizens from investing in the country. The new sanctions will give the US the power to freeze the assets of any individual, regardless of nationality, for doing business in Syria.
The new sanctions will also target people dealing with Russian and Iranian entities in Syria. The looming sanctions have already caused many to pull out of investments in Syria, which is mostly to blame for the recent collapse of Syria’s currency. Lebanon, Jordan, and other regional neighbors are discouraged from joining the reconstruction effort since it can cause targeting by the US.
US lawmakers are expected to announce who the new sanctions will be targeting on Wednesday. The sanctions are permitted under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which was incorporated into the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Even Washington’s Kurdish allies in northeast Syria are worried about the new sanctions. An official from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spoke with Voice of America about the Caesar Act and warned it could impede their ability to fight ISIS. “As Caesar sanctions are about to go into effect, the status of northeastern Syria must be taken into consideration especially when these sanctions might affect the battle to fight IS,” the SDF official said.
A group of Syrian-Americans demonstrated against the new sanctions in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Sunday. “When you try to destroy the economy of a country, it affects the people,” said Bashar Hajal, of Allentown. “It’s a contradiction if the main purpose of the Caesar Act is to protect civilians. It’s our homeland. And seeing it collapse like this is just devastating. We cannot stand by.”