The Caesar Act, which gained bipartisan support in Congress in December, envisages sanctions on Syrian troops and others responsible for atrocities committed during Syria’s civil war and funding for war crimes investigations and prosecutions. President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included the Caesar act, into law. The Caesar Act is instilling fear into the Assad regime.
Caesar is a code name for a Syrian forensic photographer who took thousands of photographs of victims of torture. He smuggled them out of the country. The images, taken between 2011 and 2013, were turned over to human rights advocates. They graphically expose the large scale of the Assad brutality against Syrians.
The bill applies sanctions to those who lend support to “the Assad regime’s military efforts” in the war; it also grants authorities to the U.S. secretary of state to support entities collecting evidence and pursuing prosecutions against those who have committed war crimes in Syria.
The Caesar Act gives the U.S. another means to punish Baschar al-Assad and his allies with sanctions. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on his regime and a number of his top officials, but the new authority allows the U.S. to target foreign companies if they are found to be supporting repression. To include German companies, like Brenntag, assisting Assad to produce chemical weapons.
The Syrian government condemned Wednesday new wave of U.S. sanctions against the country. It called the measures “economic terrorism” that will increase the suffering of the Syrian people. In fact, the Caesar Act has nothing to do with punishing the people of Syria. It simply holds the Assad regime accountable for extreme terror.
Syria’s economy is facing a major crisis with the Syrian pound at a record low, which stands today at 1,800 pounds to the dollar. Before the conflict began in March 2011, the dollar was worth 47 pounds. The Syrian pound is worth 40 times less its value.
The Syrian statement said the U.S. sanctions are a “flagrant violation to the most simple human rights and international laws.”
The Assad regime seriously invoked “human rights and international laws” to condemn the Caesar Act.
AP contributed to this article.