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

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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid