Despite the announcement that Egypt has obtained written approval from the United States to transmit Egyptian gas through Syria to Lebanon, pressure from the U.S. Congress continues. Congress has stepped up pressure on the Biden administration, criticizing its lax positions on energy agreements reached between Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan through Syria, known as the Arab Gas Project. Critics consider that any exemptions from the Caesar Act sanctions stemming from this project will enhance the Syrian state’s influence, calling on Biden to reverse the handling of this issue.
“The administration justifies exemptions to the sanctions by saying that preventing Lebanon’s collapse requires relaxed treatment of the Syrian state,” wrote Senior Republican senator Jim Rish and Representative Mike McCaul.
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The two lawmakers expressed deep concern that the current administration has provided fertile ground for easing future Caesar Act sanctions by involving the World Bank in the matter. They claimed that the amount of energy the Assad regime will receive falls below the ceiling required to impose sanctions on suppliers—according to the letter—which warned that the administration’s continued support for such deals clearly shows that the White House is not ready to implement the Caesar Act. This action will push international players to find other loopholes to avoid the sanctions.
In this regard, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that several members of Congress had expressed support for the letter.
“The Biden administration’s exemptions under the energy agreements will not extend to the next administration if they oppose them. This is because the Caesar Act does not allow such exemptions to be extended without continued review,” Asharq al-Awsat reported, quoting congressional sources.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.