By Jesse Crall
In recent days, I’ve been trying to raise awareness around the Caesar Act sanctions currently imposed by the U.S. government against Syria. These sanctions, already harmful to a population ensconced in poverty, take on an even more deleterious effect in light of the explosion in Beirut earlier this week. Since Lebanon was heavily affected by the sanctions due to its close financial ties with Syria, rebuilding the immense damage will prove even harder. Not one member of Congress has spoken out against the Caesar Act.
Max Blumenthal at The Grayzone wrote an excellent article upon the imposition of these sanctions in June, detailing their dubious origins and how regime change hawks spurred their inception. In late 2019, lawmakers passed the Caesar Act via voice vote, meaning it slid through Congress with near-unanimity. I’ve contacted my representatives as well as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who just passed an amendment in the latest defense bill to require studies on the effects our sanctions have on civilian populations. A helpful piece of legislation to be sure but we know the Caesar Act will lead to significant harm to a population already decimated by civil war and poverty.
The United States wants regime change in Syria. President Assad has refused to let the American empire envelop Syria, preferring to align with Iran & Russia. Think tanks backed by oil companies, weapons contractors and international banks produce papers and give lectures selling the idea that intervention in Syria is necessary. For national security, for human rights, to defeat terrorism…these are many of the same outlets and individuals that sold the Iraq War. Assad’s failings are not entirely chimerical but the fall of the Syrian state promises a cyclone of terrorist groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda occupying positions of power. They already have, to various degrees. Via Operation Timber Sycamore, then-President Barack Obama and the CIA spent upwards of $1 billion training rebels against the Syrian government. They ended up affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Because Syria has yet to lead to significant U.S. casualties, our role in regime change efforts has escaped significant attention from citizens or the media. As a result, politicians let D.C. consensus dictate our policy with little pushback. Progressive politicians in Congress including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar haven’t offered any recent statement on Syria. Rashida Tlaib offered only a vague call to action, troubling considering she was boosting a narrative set forth by the White Helmets, a group that supports regime change as well as sanctions against Syria. Tulsi Gabbard’s attempts at diplomacy and challenges to certain narratives around the Douma chemical attack led to repeated smears across outlets. It doesn’t pay to stand up to the war machine.
If more politicians won’t take brave stances themselves, it’s on us to pressure them until they do. So I ask that you please contact your Representatives asking them to oppose the Caesar Act sanctions. Any one of them can draw up legislation to repeal these sanctions, hopefully recognizing that the tragedy in Lebanon only adds to the necessity. You can also share information regarding the Caesar Act via email and social media. Change will only come from collective power.
For more information, see the fliers below and feel free to pass them along across any outlet you see fit:
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm.