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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/25/20

Caesar Tries to Suffocate 17 Million Syrians

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Republished from American Herald Tribune

Syrians participated on Thursday in a large demonstration against the U.S.-applied
Syrians participated on Thursday in a large demonstration against the U.S.-applied 'Caesar Act'
(Image by American Herald Tribune website)
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Since 2011, the US and allies have promoted, trained and supplied militants trying to bring about "regime change" in Damascus. Having failed in that effort, they have tried to strangle Syria economically. The goal has always been the same: to force Syria to change politically. This month, June 2020, the aggression reaches a new level with extreme sanctions known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.

The new law is fraudulent on two counts. It is called "Caesar" in reference to a 2014 propaganda stunt involving an anonymous Syrian who was alleged to be a military photographer. He claimed to have 55,000 photos showing about eleven thousand victims of Syrian government torture. As the Christian Science Monitor said at the time, the "Caesar" report was "A well-timed propaganda exercise funded by Qatar." A 30 page analysis later confirmed that the "Caesar" report was a fraud with nearly half the photos showing the OPPOSITE of what was claimed: they documented dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of "rebel" car bombs and attacks.

The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act is also fraudulent by claiming to "protect civilians". In reality, it is punishes and hurts the vast majority of 17 million persons living in Syria. It will result in thousands of civilians suffering and dying needlessly.

Pre-Existing Sanctions

The US has been hostile to Syria for many decades. Unlike Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Syria under Hafez al Assad refused to make a peace treaty with Israel. Syria was designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" and first sanctioned by the U.S. in 1979.

After the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, Syria accepted about one million Iraqi refugees and supported the Iraqi resistance in various ways. In retaliation, the US escalated punishing sanctions in 2004.

In 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressured Syria to change their foreign policy and be more friendly to Israel. Syrian President Bashar al Assad pointedly declined. Twelve months later, when protests and violence began in Syria in 2011, the US, Europe and Gulf monarchies (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) quickly supported the opposition and imposed more sanctions.

In 2016, after five years of crisis and war, a report on the humanitarian impact of sanctions on Syria was prepared for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. It noted that "U.S. and E.U. sanctions on Syria are some of the most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed." The 30 page report went on document with case studies how humanitarian aid which is supposed to be permitted is effectively stopped. The sanction regulations, licenses, and penalties make it so difficult and risky that humanitarian aid is effectively prevented. The report concluded with thirteen specific recommendations to allow humanitarian and development aid.

But there was not relaxation or changes in the maze of rules and sanctions to allow humanitarian relief. On the contrary, as the Syrian government was expelling terrorists from east Aleppo, southern Damascus, and Deir Ezzor, the US and EU blocked all aid for reconstruction. The US and allies were intent to NOT allow Syria to rebuild and reconstruct.

In 2018, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Idriss Jazairy, prepared a report on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights in Syria. He noted, "Unilateral coercive measures on agricultural inputs and outputs, medicines, on many dual use items related to water and sanitation, public electricity and transportation, and eventually on rebuilding schools, hospitals and other public buildings and services, are increasingly difficult to justify, if they ever were justifiable."

Before 2011, 90% of pharmaceutical needs were filled by Syrian factories. Those factories which remain have trouble getting raw materials and cannot get replacement parts for equipment. For example an expensive dialysis machine or MRI machine from Siemens or General Electric is rendered useless because Syria cannot import the spare part of software. On paper, they can purchase this but in reality they cannot.

Over 500,000 civilians returned to Aleppo after the terrorists were expelled at end of 2016. But reconstruction aid is prohibited by US sanctions and UN rules. They can receive "shelter kits" with plastic but rebuilding with glass and cement walls is not allowed because "reconstruction" is prohibited. This article describes numerous case examples from war torn Aleppo.

The author had a personal experience with the impact of sanctions. A Syrian friend could not get hearing aid batteries for a youth who was hard of hearing. Sanctions prevented him from being able to order the item because financial transactions and delivery is prohibited without a special license. A stockpile of the specialized batteries was easy to purchase in the USA but took almost a year to get to the destination in Syria.

US Economic Bullying and Terrorism

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Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who grew up in Canada, but currently lives in San Francisco Bay area of California.

Independent journalist with experience in Latin America, (more...)

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