On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation H.R.31 to increase economic and financial pressure on the regime of Syria's President Bashar Al Assad. The bill must now pass Senate and White House to become law, which is not a guaranteed outcome, Chad Brand, a government relations officer for the Syrian American Council, told me, "because many Democrats have raised concerns over a portion of the legislation dealing with efforts to dissuade divestment in Israel, known as BDS."
H.R.31 is not new. But it brings Congressional validation to the sanctions against Syria that the U.S. administration imposed at the beginning of the uprising in 2011 with measures tightening the not around the regime--freezing all Syrian government assets in the U.S.--but that were later expended to include trade and investment with Syria.
The U.S. Congress' backing comes late. After eight years, the sanctions have failed to achieve their goals: the end of the Syrian regime or the end of the regime's violence against civilians. Today, the Assad regime is still firmly in power. It has regained, not receded, its control of the country.
In fact, sanctions have had harmful effects on the Syrian population. The financial and economic embargo has, for example, made the many Syrian opponents to the regime of President al Assad in exile unable to support their family.
An opponent to the regime of President al Assad who found political asylum in America, speaking on condition of anonymity from his home in Washington, DC, said it was nearly impossible for him to send money to support friends and relatives in need in Syria. U.S. banks and other financial institutions will not process the transaction. Alternative and informal ways through middlemen in Jordan or Turkey are possible, but costly, uncertain and risk violating the U.S. embargo, he said.