Inside Story

Will the Caesar Act defeat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?

US Congress passes sanctions targeting politicians, institutions, businesses that engage with the Syrian government.

The war in Syria has devastated much of the country and its people, but President Bashar al-Assad has remained in power with the help of his foreign allies.

There is now another threat facing tens of millions of Syrians: the economy, which has been reduced to a third of its size, has been decimated.

Syria’s currency is in freefall and there are shortages of basic goods, while prices have gone up. But al-Assad might not be able to count on his friends any more to rebuild his state. 

New United States sanctions – the result of legislation known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act -are now taking effect: punish anyone who does business with his country.

The move could affect al-Assad partners such as Russia and Iran, too, but also those in the Gulf and Europe as well.

US officials insist the sanctions will not harm Syrian civilians.

So, will these sanctions deny the government a political victory after years of conflict? And how will Syria’s allies react to them?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Joshua Landis – director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma

Ammar Kahf – executive director of the Omran Center for Strategic Studies

Alexey Khlebnikov – Middle East expert at the Russian International Affairs Council