Biden Admin Warns Arabs Against Restoring Ties With Syria, Waves the Prospect of Sanctions
Funding jihadis was nice and dandy but they better not restore normal relations with a sovereign country
A senior US official has warned countries in the Middle East against restoring ties with Syria, citing atrocities committed by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as stringent sanctions against doing business with Damascus.
On a call to reporters on Friday, Joey Hood, acting assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, said Washington’s opposition to the Syrian government would not change unless there was a “major change in behaviour” in Damascus.
“With regard to others, who may be considering making moves, we are asking them to consider very carefully the atrocities committed by the regime on the Syrian people over the last decade, as well as the regime’s continuing efforts to deny much of the country access to humanitarian aid and security,” Hood said.
The US official’s remarks come amid reports of rapprochement between Syria and Saudi Arabia, a close US partner.
The United Arab Emirates, another American ally, had reestablished diplomatic ties with the Syrian government late in 2018. Last year, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed held a phone call with Assad and called Syria a “brotherly” Arab country.
On Friday, Hood waved the prospect of secondary sanctions against countries that normalise relations with Syria – stemming from the Caesar Act, a 2020 law that applies sweeping measures to restrict the financial operations of the Syrian government.
“This is a law that has wide bipartisan support in the Congress, and the administration is going to follow the law on that,” Hood said.
“And so governments and businesses need to be careful that their proposed or envisioned transactions don’t expose them to potential sanctions from the United States under that act.”
Earlier this year, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said the Caesar Act makes it difficult to cooperate with Syria and reintegrate it into the Arab League.
“To keep the Caesar Act as it is today makes this path very difficult, not only for us as a nation, but also for the private sector,” he said in March.
The law is designed to make it difficult for the Syrian government, which has all but won the 10-year civil war, to trade with the outside world and engage in reconstruction efforts.
Source: Middle East Eye