US sanctions against the Syrian government have severely crippled the war-torn nation amidst a difficult reconstruction and development phase.
The Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019 (H. R. 4868) – introduced in the House on 10/28/2019 – prohibits funding for certain UN programs in Syria, unless certified by the Department of State. The highlighted conditions necessary for US funding set forth by the Act relate to deemed “areas of greatest need” and that the funding, directly or through UN programs, does not involve the Syrian government and related entities. The bipartisan bill is authored by Sens. Wilson (R-SC), Kildee (D-MI), Chabot (R-OH), and Gonzalez (D-TX).
· Ensures that no US assistance is directly or indirectly appropriated for the Syrian government, notably through UN organs.
· Certifies that conditions for this assistance are of reasonable expectations to reach its intended recipients; programming is determined according to a greatest need-basis and not limited to greatest access.
· Requires the Secretary of State to certify that UN programming in Syria does not materially support the Assad government and adheres to the UN’s own Supplier Code of Conduct.
· Establishes deemed transparency in relation to the manipulation of US assistance for political or financial aid by the Syrian government and third parties.
· Affirms US support for UN-backed and independent mechanisms related to the vetting of procurement contracts in Syrian government-held areas.
The ongoing Syrian Civil War has reached a successive stage of uncertainty; it rages on in various parts of the country while the threat of terrorism, foreign-backed militants, food insecurity, COVID-19, and other factors pierce its difficult reconstruction and development phase. US insistence not to recognize Bashar al-Assad as the legitimate President of Syria has not only curtailed international assistance to the country but has also complicated and negatively affected Syria’s recovery in its own right; the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, enforced on June 17th, 2020, has already crippled these reconstruction efforts as the standard, procedural and bureaucratic government-related processes in this question are targeted by it. In a country that seeks to regain stability, centralized, government-associations of such efforts are evident. Moreover, while UN missions are positive multilateral developments, they are limited considering the sheer scale of collaboration needed for a gradual recovery and the knowledge of critical areas by internal agencies outweighs it.
The bipartisan Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019 is an excess, unnecessary, and overwhelming addition that further complicates the Syrian effort during a tumultuous period in the region and beyond. With more than 11 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, this bill would vehemently slow down and add further strain to a reconstruction process that requires dialogue and trust with the legitimate Syrian government. Together with the Caesar Act, the punctilious targeting of government-connected entities will ensure that only a fraction of this assistance is received and at a much slower pace of action.
In this regard, while the United States should maintain its support for future UN humanitarian efforts, it should also work closely with Russia to ensure that American assistance is delivered safely and effectively to the Syrian people. Doing so will expedite the progress towards regional stability and advance America's reputation as a force for good in the world.
For Ru-PAC’s stance on Syria and related issues, visit the “Issues” section on our website.
 UN World Food Programme: Syria - https://www.wfp.org/countries/syrian-arab-republic
This policy brief has been compiled by the Russian Public Affairs Committee (Ru-PAC) in the period of November 2020.