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U.S. Envoy Says 'Assad Atrocities, Not Sanctions' Have Destroyed Syria




James Jeffrey, the U.S.Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, has stated that the “atrocities” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have destroyed Syria, not the U.S. sanctions.
“Today as the United States announces new sanctions under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, it is important to focus on the reasoning behind this legislation,” said Jeffrey in an op-ed published in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
He said the Caesar Act aims to send a message to the regime and its enablers that “Assad remains a pariah.”
“Two recently issued United Nations reports support the views of… Congressional leaders and highlight the Assad regime's atrocities which have destroyed Syria, its economy, and its ability to respond to COVID-19,” the U.S. diplomat added. 
He said the Caesar Act's significant impact is “long-term: it aims to foreclose any potential economic benefit from a military victory by the regime and its enablers.”   
Jeffrey noted that the goal of the United States in pursuing these additional “targeted” sanctions -- using existing authorities and those contained in the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 -- against the regime and its enablers is to “promote accountability and deny them access to the international financial system until a political solution to the Syria conflict can be reached.”  
“The regime must… verifiably and permanently dismantle its chemical weapons program and sever its ties with Iran's military forces and Iranian-supported groups,” the U.S. diplomat added.
He said that “contrary to regime propaganda,” Assad's choice of “war over peace,” not U.S. sanctions, has destroyed the country and its economy.
“Bashar al-Assad chooses to use rapidly dwindling cash reserves to pursue a vicious war against millions of Syrians that has devastated Syria economically at a time when COVID-19 is spreading among Syria's already vulnerable citizens. United States' sanctions target Assad and his regime's illegitimate wealth, not these citizens,” Jeffrey said.
He also pointed out that Assad can end “this needless war” only by declaring a “nation-wide ceasefire, constructively participating in the Constitutional Committee talks in Geneva, and implementing a political vision that puts the Syrian people's democratic aspirations first.” 
“The world is watching and whoever makes deals with the regime is at risk of being sanctioned,” the U.S. diplomat warned.

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