Syria war: Could Washington's 'Caesar' sanctions topple Assad?
"President Bashar al-Assad has largely defeated the rebellion against his rule, but Syria's economy is in meltdown," Dr Christopher Phillips, from Queen Mary University of London, writes in this opinion piece for Middle East Eye. "Civil war, Western sanctions and systematic government corruption, have already caused shortages, widespread unemployment and the near-collapse of the Syrian pound. "Now, Assad's battered regime and the long-suffering Syrian people, 80 per cent of whom live in poverty, face a new challenge: Washington's 'Caesar' sanctions." Rather than just targeting regime individuals, the Caesar Act punishes any business or individual from any country who deals with sanctioned actors. This is expected to deter foreign companies from investing, starving the government of much-needed capital and accelerating economic decline. The US hope that this will force the regime to offer political concessions, moderate its behaviour, or, ideally, prompt an internal coup against Assad.