Congress "punishes" Trump for leaving Syria


The US Congress adopted sanctions against Syria and those countries that provide military assistance to it, supply aviation parts and trade in petroleum products. What is Congress seeking, and will it stop the withdrawal of troops from Syria?

The upper house of Congress adopted a package of sanctions against companies providing military economic assistance to Syria. Under the restrictions are firms that supply Bashar Assad with weapons and trade oil products with him. If you keep in mind that Trump has launched the withdrawal of American forces from Syria, then the Senate sanctions look like a barking dog that cannot stop this flight.

But if you look a little deeper, the decision of the Senate is more than the cry of the loser. After all, the Americans have not yet left Syria. As long as the withdrawal process is not running, the upper house seems to be warning Trump against hasty decisions.

Washington is well aware that the withdrawal of the United States from Syria strengthens their regional rivals - Russia and Iran - as well as a complicated NATO partner in the person of Turkey. Therefore, the United States has two ways to save face: either stay and prevent the strengthening of this “troika”, or leave, making life as difficult as possible for them.

So far both options are possible. Under the pressure of the military and congressmen, Trump has already announced that he will not rush to leave Syria. As an excuse, he cited three reasons. The withdrawal of the contingent can strengthen ISIS and Iran, which threatens Israel, as well as accelerate Turkey’s military actions against Kurdish friends of the United States. Time for "punitive measures" is not chosen by chance. On February 14, there will be a meeting between Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani in Sochi, and the United States wants to put pressure on them. Parliamentary elections will be held in Israel in April. The withdrawal of US troops is very worried about the electorate of Benjamin Netanyahu, so the sanctions against Iran, the enemy of Israel, are designed to restore confidence in the overseas partner.

If Congress fails to stop Trump, US sanctions should at least prevent Russia and Iran from enjoying the fruits of victory. According to experts, the restoration of Syria may require an astronomical amount - a trillion dollars. With the help of the Turks and Iranians, we will not pull such a load. To the rescue could come a rich Europe. At the summit in Istanbul on October 27, Putin and Erdogan tried to connect France and Germany to the restoration of Syria.

But then Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron refused to do this, motivating their decision by the need for political reforms, and in fact, demanding Asad’s departure. Recently, signs of possible recognition by the Syrian leader have appeared in Europe. And if this process progresses, then theoretically it is possible to connect the EU to the reconstruction of the country.

The affairs of Americans in Syria are extremely bad, and not only there, but generally in the region. The goal declared in 2016 to remove troops from distant shores needs to be fulfilled, but it is not clear how to do this. Of course, there are certain aspects of such influence through economic levers, but nevertheless, the US builds its plans for a long time. Their plans in the region remained, they will not be removed from it. If they withdraw troops, then, of course, they will leave military advisers there, a large number of representatives of the intelligence community.

Congress sanctions are also designed to exert political pressure on Bashar Assad. Interfering with restoring Syria, the senators are counting on a worsening economic situation and growing discontent with the Assad regime. For the latter, this is especially unpleasant when the Constitutional Committee is practically created, and in several European countries, including Turkey and France, shifts have begun to recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian leader.

However, after the Senate’s decision, Europe will have even less incentive to help Syria. European companies that have lost billions in Iran know firsthand how dangerous US sanctions are.

Thus, the Senate bill on Syria solves two problems: it prevents Trump from leaving Syria and tries to ruin the success of Iran and Russia. If the first task is still real, then the second is doomed to failure. Russia and Iran have already won, but the loser of the West has the only chance to gain a foothold in Syria — to restore what they have destroyed in these eight years.