Caesar Act enters into force

Jun 17, 2020

Tough new US economic sanctions aimed at deterring foreign business activity with the Assad regime enter into force today.

The measures in the Caesar Act, named after the former regime photographer who defected and smuggled out photographs of a few thousand of those tortured and starved to death in Assad’s prisons, seek to compel the regime to "halt its murderous attacks" on civilians and accept a peaceful political transition.

While the regime is arguing that the sanctions will worsen the plight of ordinary Syrians and attempting to depict itself as the supporter of the Syrian people, few believe its claims.
Syrians point out that the regime and its accomplices have spent at least tens of billions of dollars since 2011 in a war against Syrians wanting freedom, democracy and human rights, destroying much of the nation and killing at least 600,000 citizens, as well as dispossessing 11 million to keep the Assads’ hereditary dictatorship in power.

The regime is now dealing with a worsening economic crisis of its own making, with its currency plummeting in value, sending prices of food and medicine soaring. This has led to previously unseen demonstrations in some ‘neutral’ or loyalist areas such as Suwayda, with protesters condemning the regime and demanding Assad’s downfall, a scenario which seemed unthinkable previously. Although Assad’s forces have reacted with their usual brutal violence and threats, arresting dozens of protesters, the demonstrations continue to grow there and in the liberated areas in Idlib and elsewhere, with the new sanctions likely to prompt further hostility to the regime.

The legislation warns Washington’s allies and foes alike, along with international institutions, businesses and officials, that engagement in any business with Assad’s regime could lead to travel bans, denial of access to capital, and arrest.

“Any country or individual, if you’re supporting Assad, stop now! If you’re thinking of supporting Assad in the future, cancel your plans! Because the Caesar bill is an open-ended warning to everyone (who deals with Assad),” said Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of Syrian Emergency Task Force, dubbed “Caesar’s Godfather.”

Moustafa was responsible for bringing Caesar to testify in Congress, and for the subsequent coordinated efforts to help in the drafting, passing and now implementation of the bill.