In passing the recent Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which prevents the reconstruction of Syria and sanctions companies and countries that might participate in its reconstruction, Congress has made clear that the Syrian conflict has shifted. Whereas attention was once predominantly devoted to the battles waged in the field against terrorists and their sympathizers, now the primary battleground sees war by other (economic) means. These latest tools share the same goals of weakening the regime and exploiting vulnerabilities in order to bring it down.
Here, we note the following points.
Through the Caesar Act, Washington is imposing tougher sanctions than even those that have been imposed by the U.N. Security Council on North Korea since the 1950s. Despite its longevity, such thorough economic isolation has done little other than surprise the U.N. with the country’s resilience and its capacity to possess nuclear and hydrogen weapons in spite of suffocating pressure. As far as the goals of regime change are concerned, these policies have only backfired. It’s quite possible that a similar story will play out in Syria.
Washington rules over the international financial and economic system. Its annual economic production reaches almost $23 trillion, followed by China with $14 trillion, Germany with $4.5 trillion, then Japan, France, Britain, India, Canada and so on. Each one of these economies is inextricably linked to the American financial system, making it prohibitively difficult for companies of any country to implement any construction or infrastructure projects in rebuilding Syria. It is foolish to underestimate, therefore, the importance of America’s Caesar Act. Syria’s allies are faced with the daunting task of protecting their political interests while rebuilding Syria, even at a slow pace and over an extended period of time.
Washington now has imposed sanctions on Iran and Russia, and lighter tariffs have been imposed on Europe, all while it still wages its economic trade war against China. In the background of these developments lies America’s gradual withdrawal from Europe and its desire to invigorate its economy so as to avoid falling from its dominant position and control over international finances. It appears that America will persist in its policy of sanctions and thereby utilize the Caesar Act to impose its agenda on its European opponents and its economic arch-nemesis, China. This motivation is what compels America to constrict the Syrian regime and impede the reconstruction of Syria (unless such a project adheres to its own mechanisms and conditions).
Prior to the events of 2011, Syria experienced economic circumstances similar to what it now faces under American sanctions and the Caesar Act, and Washington classified Syria as part of the “Axis of Evil.” Despite the covert economic siege from the West, Syria managed to build a competitive national economy and expand commercial activities with its Arab neighbors as well as its closest partner in Turkey. Syria even achieved a fiscal surplus in its trade balance.
Accordingly, I expect Syria will withstand America’s Caesar Act and continue reconstruction. Syria possesses national leadership and balanced its budgets during the lean years of war without running a deficit. It is capable of advancement and improvement, and its enemies will fail in their efforts to thwart this effort. The day will come when all foreign enemies will withdraw from Syria, proving that their efforts and sanctions will have been in vain. Within a few years, the “American Caesar” will perish, and the time will come to bury him once and for all.