Unbelievable: Congress to Pass Sanctions Against Syria Reconstruction

Jan 28, 2019

The US/al-Qaeda regime-change onslaught failed so now posturing US politicians will do everything they can to make sure Syria goes through the same sanctions hell Iraq did 1990-2003:

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to impose new sanctions on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, and those who do business with them. The move comes a month after President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw troops from Syria, and as some Arab governments are thawing relations with the Assad regime, which has all but secured a military victory after nearly eight years of war. The measure has been passed by the House twice in previous sessions, and a companion bill currently remains pending in the Senate.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., reintroduced the standalone version of the Syria bill, H.R. 31, which passed under fast-track procedures. On the Senate side, the bill is one provision rolled into a foreign policy-related package called the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor. Senate Democrats blocked the bill — designated as S.1, which symbolizes heightened importance — on the grounds that Congress should reopen the government before considering unrelated legislation.

Specifically the US “lawmakers” target anyone engaged in reconstruction:

The current version of the bill imposes sanctions on anyone engaging in “significant financial, material, or technological support to, or knowingly engages in a significant transaction with” the Syrian government or the governments of Russia and Iran in Syria. It includes an exception for nongovernmental organizations operating in Syria, and it directs the president to come up with a plan regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in need.

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The Syrian government has been courting investors to help rebuild parts of the country decimated throughout the multi-pronged Syrian war. Reconstruction plans have largely focused on areas destroyed by Syrian and Russian bombs, like parts of Damascus and Homs, and not cities like Raqqa, which the U.S.-led coalition flattened in its fight against the Islamic State. Western governments have said they will not contribute to reconstruction efforts until progress is made toward a peaceful settlement to the war. The European Union this week imposed a new round of sanctions on business executives and entities doing business with the Assad regime.

This is the same script from Iraq where the US first destroyed water treatment plants then imposed sanctions so they couldn’t be put back online. But hey, don’t worry, the bill “isn’t targeted against the Syrian people” because small amount of humanitarian aid by NGOs will still be allowed in:

“This isn’t targeted against the Syrian people, it isn’t targeting humanitarian aid,” Brand said. “If you look specifically at Section 3, to be precise, there’s waiver language that’s in there to ensure that NGOs are not penalized regarding the distribution of aid in the regime areas.”

Oh, so the US will do everything it can to stop reconstruction which would take billions and the cooperation of major powers and companies, but Syrians are welcome to any crumbs humanitarian aid organizations can get in — how graceful!

The difference between Syria 2019 and Iraq 1990 is that this time around Moscow isn’t part of the sanctions regime. Syria will never be as isolated as Iraq where hundreds of thousands died as a result of the post-war sanctions demanded by Bush. Thank god! Thank god for Russia!

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Published at https://russia-insider.com/en/congress-pass-sanctions-against-syria-reconstruction