Possible US mechanisms for implementing the Captagon Act in Syria

Possible US mechanisms for implementing the Captagon Act in Syria

On December 24, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the National Defence Authorisation Act into law just before Christmas. It includes a mandate requiring US agencies to target the Captagon drug trade in Syria through developing a co-ordinated approach.

Under the 2023 National Defense Authorisation, the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Drug Enforcement Administration, will formulate a joint vision to implement the goal of dismantling and disrupting the Catpagon network in Syria within 6 months of the date of approval by the President.

It is expected that the US institutions authorized to enforce the drug control law will resort to the following mechanisms and procedures:

  • Drafting a joint workplan between the United States and its allies in the Middle East, especially Syria's neighboring countries such as Jordan and Turkey, that includes a monitoring system to provide information about Captagon smuggling networks, and the Syrian parties involved in.
  • The United States to provide technical and military support to the authorities responsible for guarding the borders in Syria’s neighboring countries, especially Jordan, in addition to financing joint naval patrols with NATO countries to monitor ships arriving from the Syrian coast.
  • To increase reliance on local Syrian groups such as the Free Syrian Army and groups previously affiliated with the Southern Front, to play a broader role in combating drug trafficking, by enhancing their support and providing them with technical equipment.
  • Developing a media action plan aimed at mobilizing efforts against the regime and warning against it as a threat to regional and international stability, because this regime promotes Captagon.
  • Adopting a new international sanctions package against the regime to put further pressure on it with the aim of changing its behavior.

Ultimately, the US acknowledgment of the regime's responsibility for the manufacture and promotion of drugs, and the adoption of a law to dismantle its networks responsible for Captagon, is considered a new pressure tool that serves the strategy announced by Washington, which is based on changing the regime's behavior. However, this is not expected to be the last pressure tool. 

Meanwhile, US lawmakers are holding discussions on a draft amendment to the Caesar Act, which may block any international relations with the regime in the matter of rehabilitating infrastructure, electricity networks, and energy facilities, if this regime does not actually change its behavior.

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