Will US punish Russia and Iran over Syria?

The US House of Representatives passed legislation to impose sanctions against foreign backers serving as resources to the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and supports its alleged human rights abuses.

“With these new sanctions, we will continue to tighten the screws on the Syrian regime and its most prominent backers, including Iran and Russia," the House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.

"The rest of the world recognizes the horrors of the Syrian regime. It is time for Russia to join us," the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said earlier.

A senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, explained that these steps are evidence that the US is still struggling not for resolving the Syrian crisis, but for displacing Bashar Assad.

"The Syrian crisis continues, but there are clear prospects for its settlement through the negotiation process between the Syrian authorities and the opposition.The negotiating process is moving in several directions, but the Astana process is the main one. And the agreement on the zones of de-escalation has been reached," the expert stressed. .

Olenchenko suggested that there is a serious lobby in the US, which is interested either in continuing military operations in Syria, or in nominating an already prepared man for the post of Syrian president. "And it is in this context that we must understand the decision of the US to impose sanctions against those who support Bashar Assad, which is another step in violating the norms of international law. And of course, it does not contribute to the settlement of the Syrian crisis," the senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences noted.

According to him, the current question is what Donald Trump will decide. "At the moment, I think that he does not have a final decision yet. In any case, if the signing takes place, it will not be in the near future. Most likely, we will observe some period of confrontation," Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.

The President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, said that possible US sanctions will be targeted. "But it does not mean that they will be painless," the expert said.

Moreover, he said that the US targeted sanctions may turn into international sanctions. "If the Americans impose sanctions against some companies, for example, financial ones, they can insist that their international partners also observe these sanctions. Thus, targeted sanctions turned into international sanctions can be quite effective," the president of the National Strategy Institute said.

However, according to the expert, it is unlikely that these sanctions will be signed by Trump and come into force. "It seems to me that it would be an unfortunate moment for this now. It is obvious that it is a method of pressure from the House of Representatives on the president, and on the part of Trump it is a way of forming a negotiating position with Moscow. From this point of view, now it would be absolutely illogical for him to take such a decision until a serious round of negotiations," Mikhail Remizov noted.

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