By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog
On Wednesday June 17th, the so called Caesar Act came into effect. The Caesar Act, named after a supposed Syrian Army defector who smuggled 50 000 pictures portraying torture and human rights abuses in Syrian prisons, aims to bring down the Syrian government through “draconian sanctions”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the bans “the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime revenue.” The measures are meant to “prevent the Assad regime from securing a military victory” in the fight against foreign-backed terrorists, according to US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft.
Washington makes it pretty clear what this is all about, which I am thankful for since I cannot stand the rather crude lies about Washington’s “humanitarian concerns”. Having exhausted all other options, including violence, the US Caesar Act is Washington’s final move on Syria, as the Empire has resorted to starvation tactics. For Washington this has become a matter of pride only- if they can’t win in Syria, they will make sure not to let Russia and Iran win.
The starvation tactic used by Washington is pretty simple – they’re going to punish the Syrian people for standing by their government against Al-Qaeda terrorists. So what will this mean for all parties involved?
For Syria it means that prices of food, medicine, and other basics are spiralling out of reach in Syrian markets as the local currency collapses in value, shortly before new US sanctions came into force. After 9 years of foreign imposed war, more than 11 million people inside the country require humanitarian assistance, about half of whom are displaced from their original homes due to foreign-backed terrorism.
Washington knows this yet shamelessly keeps claiming that their sanctions are only targeting “regime figures”. Washington is hoping that a starved Syrian population will protest against Damascus and blame Assad for their misery, because Washington believes that the Syrian people are too ignorant to see who their killers really are.
Despite the misery it will result in, Washington will fail because Syria’s allies will never let it fall, not after having saved Syria after 9 years of violence and sacrifice. Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, vowed that Syria’s allies would not allow the Caesar Act to defeat Syria. Sayyed Nasrallah said in his speech: “America is resorting to the Caesar Act is evidence of Syria’s victory in the military war because it is its last weapon.” He continued: “Syria’s allies, who stood with it politically and militarily, will not abandon it in the face of the economic war and will not allow it to fall.”
He stressed that “the target of the Caesar law is the Syrian people and the return of the civil war,” pointing out that “he who provided blood and martyrs to keep Syria united and not subject to America and Israel will not allow the Caesar law to defeat Syria.”
This holds as true for the Islamic Republic of Iran as it does for Hezbollah. The Islamic Republic, being an experienced target of a “maximum pressure” campaign already couldn’t give less of a damn about these sanctions. Iran has already challenged US and EU sanctions on Syria by sending oil tankers to Damascus before. Also, Tehran recently showed strength when Iran broke through the US siege of Venezuela and sent five oil tankers to Caracas despite Washington’s threats. For Iran, Syria is non-negotiable, Tehran will do everything in its power to uphold the government in Damascus.
Russia and China won’t just stand idly by either. Moscow has just signed a major deal with Damascus to expand the Russian military airport and naval bases in the country. Moscow has invested heavily in Damascus both supplying expensive military hardware to the Syrian Armed Forces and deploying its own air force to combat Washington’s jihadists. It is not just the investments Moscow has made but also the number of Russian soldiers that have been martyred in Syria that makes me believe that Moscow would be mad to abandon Damascus at this stage, which I firmly believe it won’t.
Nor do I believe that China, which is now in a cold war like state with the US over the COVID-19 pandemic, will care for these sanctions. Why should they? The US is already waging an economic war on China, as the
US is seeking to prevent Beijing from doing business in the European market, and particularly to prevent Europe from embracing China’s 5G network and technology. Washington has also earlier sought to prevent Iraq from signing a $20 billion “oil for reconstruction” agreement with China as Beijing is expanding its business in the Middle East. Beijing, already involved in the planned reconstruction of Syria, will not care about Washington’s sanctions.
As Iran, Russia, China and Syria are solidifying and deepening their cooperation, I become more convinced that Syria will survive. Washington is unilaterally imposing sanctions on nations and populations, forcing their own allies to follow suit, even if it is harmful for the allies. Recently Washington threatened the UAE for daring to consider re-opening their embassy in Syria. It is clear that Washington is also forcing its vassals to seriously reconsider their allegiances before it is too late. As Washington’s cruelty keeps spiralling out of control, more countries in the region and eventually in the world will look eastwards for assistance. The Russia-China-Iran alliance has become very important for many countries in the region – countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar and the UAE will look for help from Beijing and Moscow to compensate for the damages that Washington is causing to their economies.
We have seen the starvation tactic fail on countries like Iran and Venezuela before. The US Caesar act on Syria will not just fail, but it will further weaken Washington’s influence in the Levant.