Photo: Bashar Al Assad, right, receives a delegation representing various Arab governments in Damascus. AP
WASHINGTON D.C.— The Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) commends the bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers for introducing the “Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act” in the House of Representatives. This significant legislation serves as a crucial step toward preventing the recognition of Dictator Bashar Al-Assad amidst the growing trend among countries normalizing relations with the Assad regime responsible for immense human suffering for over a decade.
“The United States and our allies have stood together in opposing Bashar al-Assad’s barbaric regime for more than a decade now. If countries in the region are ready to look past the numerous documented criminal acts that were committed in Syria, then the United States must set the example and use its diplomatic strength to counter these misguided steps,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) said in a statement.
The bill prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing or normalizing relations with any Syrian government led by Al-Assad and sends a warning message to countries engaging in normalizing ties with his regime. Additionally, it requires the U.S. Secretary of State to provide Congress with a comprehensive strategy for countering normalization with the Assad regime by foreign governments.
“Those who normalize relations are aiding and abetting the ongoing crimes of the Syrian regime, as it seeks to rebuild Syria on the property of citizens it has murdered or driven from their homes,” said Stephen Rapp, former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes and member of SETF Board of Trustees.
The bill expands the 2019 Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which implemented rigorous sanctions on the Assad regime and its supporters responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities committed against civilians, to include members of Syria’s People’s Assembly, senior officials of the Assad’s Baath Party, those involved in diverting international humanitarian aid, and those involved in stealing Syrian citizens’ property for “political reasons or personal gain.”
“The Arab League’s recognition should not deter the U.S. government from its obligation to sanction Assad in our efforts to dismantle the trafficking and production of Captagon and hold him accountable for his egregious war crimes,” said Rep. French Hill (R-AR).
SETF expresses its gratitude to Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), French Hill (R-AR), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Carlos Giménez (R-FL) for introducing this vital and timely legislation. We appreciate their commitment to upholding justice, human rights, and accountability in Syria.
“Unless Congress acts to strengthen the Caesar Act, the prospect of holding the Assad regime accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity will diminish. Regional actors need a clear signal from the US that the normalization of Assad is unacceptable. The Biden administration needs this bipartisan mandate from Congress to take action now to make clear that the US rejects normalization,” said Steven Heydemann, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution and SETF Policy Advisor.
As the bill progresses through the legislative process, SETF urges all members of Congress to support its passage as it represents a significant opportunity to strengthen the United States’s stance against a criminal regime and promote efforts toward a free, democratic, and stable Syria.