News / Middle East

US Sanctions Syrian Foreign Minister, Others, for Supporting Crackdown

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem speaks during a news conference in Damascus, Syria, June 22, 2011
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem speaks during a news conference in Damascus, Syria, June 22, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

The United States imposed sanctions Tuesday on Syria’s Foreign Minister and two other senior officials in connection with the Damascus government’s five-month crackdown on protestors. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was targeted for being a leading defender of the violent campaign.

The Obama administration is expanding its sanctions against the Syrian government to include what the U.S. Treasury Department describes as “principal defenders of regime activities.”

A Treasury announcement said the new sanctions apply to al-Moallem, the country’s foreign minister since 2006, presidential adviser and spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban, and the country’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

The action freezes any U.S. assets the three may have and forbids Americans from doing business with them.

The United States now has imposed targeted sanctions on more than 30 Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, banned imports of Syrian oil products, and frozen all Syrian government assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

President Barak Obama formally called on Assad to step down on August 18.

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said al-Moallem and Shaaban are part of a “propaganda machine” that has tried to mislead world opinion about the Syrian situation.

“He [al-Moallem] has continued to beat this drum of international conspiracies, and has attempted to cover-up the regime’s horrific activities by making claims that terrorist or others were responsible," said Nuland. "Bouthaina Shaaban has served as the public mouthpiece for the repression of the regime.”

Nuland said the United States is concerned about possible connections between the Syrian envoy to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, and the harassment and apparent abduction of pro-opposition Syrian activists in that country.

“Beyond saying that we don’t think his activities were compatible with his status, that he has strong ties to Syrian intelligence, I don’t think I want to go any further than that," said Nuland. "Except to say that we have been concerned, and we’ve conveyed these concerns to the Lebanese government, about harassment of Syrians in Lebanon and the disappearance of some of them.”

David Schenker, Director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the sanctions against the Syrian envoy are a U.S. “shot across the bow” against a campaign by the Damascus government targeting Syrian dissidents abroad.

He said this includes alleged surveillance and harassment of activists by the Syrian embassy in Washington, now being probed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Schenker said the targeted U.S. sanctions may have little immediate effect but do put Syrian officials on notice that supporting the crackdown, and the Assad government, may have long-term consequences for them.

“We’re not going to see any change in behavior or immediate results from these sanctions. But it is a clear message from the Obama administration that people will be held accountable," said Schenker. "And it may dissuade, in the future, others from taking actions in support of this repression and regime that appears to be heading toward its demise.”

The Washington Institute’s Schenker said European Union energy sanctions against Syria, expected to be finalized within days, would be by far the strongest penalties enacted to date and would strip the Assad government of 30 percent of its income.

But he said nothing is likely to change Assad’s determination to try to quell the uprising by force and said it is unclear how long the crisis might continue.


You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid