The Significance of Extending the US National Emergency Regarding the Syrian Regime
May 26, 2023 1448

The Significance of Extending the US National Emergency Regarding the Syrian Regime

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The United States extended on May 8, 2023, the state of emergency regarding the Syrian regime until 2024, considering its behavior as still posing an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy. 

This refers to the policies and practices of the regime related to chemical weapons, support for terrorism, use of violence, and committing violations against the Syrian people as well.

On May 8, 2023, the United States extended the state of emergency regarding the Syrian regime actions until 2024, considering its behavior as still posing an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy. 

This refers to the regime’s actions related to its “brutality and repression of the Syrian people, who have called for freedom and a representative government, not only endangers the Syrian people themselves, but also generates instability throughout the region,” according to the letter that Biden sent to the US Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the actions of the Syrian regime is to continue in effect beyond May 11.

Of course, the state of emergency regarding the Syrian regime differs from the one on Syria that the United States first issued in 2019; as the latter pertains to the fight against ISIS, terrorism, and stability, and is renewed annually in October.

The United States would “consider changes in policies and actions of the Syrian regime in determining whether to continue or terminate this national emergency in the future. Such actions include committing violations against civilians, maintaining a ceasefire, facilitating unhindered access to humanitarian aid, and making progress in negotiations for a political settlement in accordance with UN Resolution 2254 (2015). 
It is noteworthy that the White House's announcement of extending the state of emergency regarding the Syrian regime coincided one day after the Arab League's decision to reinstate Syria's seat. This seems to indicate that the aim of this move by the US administration was to send a message that the Arab decision should have been preceded, at the very least, by a tangible change in the regime's behavior internally and regionally, including making real progress in the political process in accordance with UN Resolution 2254.

The extension of the state of emergency regarding the Syrian regime means that Washington is continuing to impose sanctions on the regime for an additional year. Although this period may provide an opportunity for Arab states to assess the behavior of the regime regarding human rights violations, the use of chemical weapons, and support for terrorism, it does not necessarily coincide with the easing of US measures towards the regime, such as lifting sanctions or granting exemptions from them.

It appears that the United States does not want to show any further leniency towards Arab states that have found the US flexibility towards the Caesar Act sanctions since mid-2022 as an opportunity to make progress in normalizing relations with the Syrian regime and attempt to engage in direct communication efforts with it.

Finally, it is likely that US policies towards the Syrian regime will be stricter in the upcoming period, particularly after the implementation of the CAPTAGON Act in mid-2023, which will be accompanied by an expansion of sanctions imposed on the regime and how to deal with such sanctions.