The Caesar Act and Assad’s Moment of Reckoning

The measure is aimed as much at Syria’s patrons as it is Syria itself.

Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act – with strong bipartisan Congressional support – to hold the Syrian regime accountable for atrocities committed by security forces against protesters who demanded political reforms. The measure was born from a report prepared by the Syria Study Group of the United States Institute of Peace arguing that to safeguard its national security, the U.S. ought to quit downplaying its role in shaping the outcome of the Syrian conflict. The report rejected Bashar Assad’s claim that his government had won the war and that the world must accept its legitimacy as the sole representative of the Syrian people. The Caesar Act took effect earlier this month as the familiar battle lines in the war are wearing down. Russia has consolidated its naval and air presence along the coast and reached terms with Turkey to de-escalate tensions in northwestern Syria. The Kurds control most of the northeast. The Islamic State is defeated, and its remnants have gone underground. The U.S. has been criticized for years for being able to articulate what it didn’t want in Syria but never what it wanted. The Caesar Act means to fix this, not […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.