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The Caesar Act : Remains of a bullet from a time ago

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Many Arab departments that are related to Washington, including a Lebanese party and under a direct sponsorship of American embassies organize a campaign entitled “awaiting wartime and great consequences after putting the Caesar Act related to the sanctions on Syria into effect, and that Syria is threatened of stopping the breathing oxygen”. While in Lebanon there is an intimidation that is related particularly to the allies of the resistance who are going to be under the pressure of sanctions. While in Iraq, there is a campaign entitled “Avoid any economic cooperation with Syria”. It seems for every observer that the true effects of Caesar Act are these campaigns once we investigate the track of that act, its time and location, and what does it represent in the concept of equations that govern the international and regional relationships.

It is very important to follow the temporal track of that act, and the conditions of its establishment and their linkage with the confrontation which was taking place in the region at that time. It was shown that that act was presented by members of the Congress in July 2016, which means at the peak of the battle of Aleppo. It mentioned “the participation in killing the civilians” and “the complexity of humanitarian aids access”, and it aimed to affect the positions of Syria’s allies involved in the battle led by Iran and Hezbollah, but in particular to affect Russia which was considering the options of involving into the battle or to impose an armistice in the cooperation with Turkey. Those who examine well the details of the act will see that it has a main target which is to exert pressure on Russia to stay away from the battle of liberation Aleppo. Anyone who returns to those days  and recalls their details will see the magnitude of the diplomatic preoccupation represented in daily meetings of the United Nations Security Council and the American and European accusations of Russia of participation in committing war crimes against humanity, and will see from the projects of the UN envoy Steffan De Mistura the nature of the American plan which aimed at fragmenting Syria into cantons starting from Aleppo under the slogan of autonomy assumed by the groups of Al Nusra front in the neighborhoods of Aleppo and under a Turkish sponsorship.

The abstaining from applying the act for three years and to approve it in December 2019 is not an ordinary matter, and it must be considered well. The three years were the years that witnessed the rolling victories achieved by the Syrian army, and the time of setting options regarding the battle of Idlib between the military resolving or the political settlement including the recognition of the victory of the Syrian state, its president, and its army in exchange of the seeking of Washington and its allies to get a big share of the authority resulting from the announcement of the end of war. Through the act which was approved by the Congress and signed by the President Donald Trump Washington puts its negotiating paper on the table. It is clear in the texts of law that the provisions of act and sanctions are pended in case there are indications of a political solution such as “when talks likely lead to agreements”. It is not a coincidence that the draft law determined a date for the end of its implementation along with the opportunity of renewing it in the end of 2021 the year which will witness the presidential elections in Syria.

Since the approval of the act by the Congress and its signing by the President Trump, the Americans entered into negotiations with Russia which is still the main target of the act as a sponsor of the political process recognized by the American administration, the Europeans governments, and the United Nations. America put such act on the table to affect the course of negotiation. It is surprising to consider the decision of the Russian President of delegating the Ministries of Defense and Foreign affairs to expand the Russian presence in Syria as an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Syria, while it is the negotiating Russian response to the American declaration of the approach of the implementation date of the act since Iran and Hezbollah are pursued by more severe and comprehensive sanctions. Therefore, the only title of the law which is considered as a gateway to new sanctions against entities and individuals related to war accusations against civilians is Russia.

Since the signature of law by the President Trump at the end of the last year, America has changed and the world has changed too. The act became as a stray bullet or even remaining fragments from a time ago searching for a target, it became a subject of a psychological warfare that transcends the texts of law, its goals, and the context of its establishment. Corona epidemic has created new America and a new world, moreover, the American street wars have created new priorities, furthermore, the war of the Iranian tankers to Venezuela showed the magnitude of the readiness of new America for confrontation. The statements and the positions of the President Trump through the seeking for a Saudi-Russian understanding in the sector of oil and the call for a Russian-American-Chinese tripartite negotiations of arms control show the intention to ease the tension with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, not to seek to escalate it.

In Lebanon, despite the intimidation, Washington does not need to issue a law regarding Syria in order to impose sanctions on the resistance allies. The Free Patriotic Movement which is the main target of the campaign of intimidation and the psychological warfare has strong public understanding relationships with Hezbollah more than Syria. So it is not logical for Washington to use this excuse if it wants to subject the Free Patriotic Movement and its leadership to the sanctions system. It is enough to announce by its Department of State that it gives three months to the Lebanese political entities which support Hezbollah and ally with it to give a clear position of their relations under the risk of their inclusion in the sanctions, and to mandate the American Ambassador in Beirut to prepare a final report at the end of the

It is a psychological warfare in which only weak fall. Washington sent reassurances under the Iraqi table because it fears from the escalation where the Caribbean carriers showed that they do not want it, because it may lead to a real war in the northeast of Syria under the title of resisting the American occupation which few days ago it has searched for the way to gradually hand it over to the Russians. Russia is the main target of the Caesar Act due to its role in Syria; therefore, a new war will start in the south of Syria and in the south of Lebanon if the tampering in balances and equations reached to taboos.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

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