US bill to sanction Syria, Russia amounts to ‘meaningless’ political posturing

A US bill to impose additional economic sanctions on Syria and countries that support it like Russia and Iran is just a meaningless exercise in political posturing, experts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act would sanction Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government for alleged war crimes and those that aid Damascus, including Russia and Iran.

“The bill is mainly meaningless grandstanding,” veteran Middle East analyst and historian Helena Cobban who heads the publishing company Just World Books said on Friday. “Syria is sanctioned to the bone already as are Russia and Iran.”

If the bill was passed into law, “it would definitely further complicate any attempt US President [Barack Obama] might want to make to halt or slow the current breakneck slide to bigger superpower war in Syria,” Cobban warned. The legislation could also backfire on the US government by opening it to legal claims over Washington’s abuses committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, CIA black sites worldwide, and the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, Cobban suggested. Extra sanctions would only serve to increase suffering of the Syrian people, Cobban predicted.

“We should note that the UN’s humanitarian agencies are warning of the extremely dire effects on the humanitarian situation for all Syrians of even the current level of sanctions,”Cobban said. Foreign affairs analyst and commentator Dan Lazare told Sputnik that US President Barack Obama did not want the extra sanctions but feared the criticism he would face if he opposed them. “Obama is not an Assad appeaser.

He is just a man in the middle who is afraid to do the same thing when everyone around him is going nuts,” Lazare explained. Obama wanted to appease hawkish neo-conservatives, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab Gulf oil exporting nations, all of whom wanted Assad removed from power, Lazare continued.

However, Obama “knows that if Assad goes, the ensuing chaos will make Libya look like a minor dust-up. So he dithers,” Lazare explained.

Obama had been playing for time but the pressures on him were mounting to send US forces into Syria on a much larger scale, Lazare warned. “Now that the CIA and the Pentagon are pushing for stepped-up military intervention, it is not clear how much longer he [Obama] can hold out,” Lazare said.

Lazare said he believed Obama hoped he could leave office in January without having to launch new military operations in Syria. “He is no doubt hoping and praying that he can make it to January 20 without a major war erupting, but the prospect seems more and more unlikely. The prevaricator-in-chief looks like he’s about to tumble off a cliff,” Lazare concluded. The new sanctions bill is being guided by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Eliot Engel.

By Sputnik