WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood has warned U.S. allies in the Middle East against normalizing ties with Syria, Al Arabiya reported.
Hood gracefully hinted that if the Arab countries chose the path of normalization, they will risk being hit by economic pressure from the United States.
The U.S. economic sanctions and blockades have been a stumbling block preventing states from re-establishing relations with Syria. Nevertheless, the UAE and Bahrain did reopen their embassies in Damascus in 2019, and in 2020, Oman returned its ambassador to Syria.
“I would also, of course, add that we have Caesar [Act] sanctions; this is a law that has wide, bipartisan support in the Congress and the [Biden] administration is going to follow the ball on that,” Hood reportedly said. “So, governments and businesses need to be careful that their proposed transactions don’t expose them to potential sanctions from the United States, under that act.”
This comes after President Assad was re-elected in May with 95.1% of the vote. Assad’s victory in fact epitomized the U.S. and its allies’ failure to oust the Syrian president amid the unrest that broke out in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring and triggered a decade-long foreign-backed war in the country.
The West in its usual fashion dubbed the presidential elections in Syria “illegitimate”.
While Washington has repeatedly accused Damascus of blocking humanitarian aid to parts of Syria, Assad noted that the U.S. sanctions have been a major obstacle, preventing Syrian refugees from returning to their homeland.
It is also the American troops who Damascus has blamed for plundering the country’s wheat and oil resources, with regular reports by the Syrian state media that U.S. troops are transporting terrorists from Iraq to Syria to purportedly prolong their military presence in the country.