by WorldTribune Staff, June 17, 2020
The Trump administration has imposed sweeping new sanctions on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, his government, and his wife.
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday announced new penalties on Syria, which personally target Assad and his wife Asma Assad as Syira faces a deepening economic crisis and rare protests in government-held areas, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
“I will make special note of the designation for the first time of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, who with the support of her husband and members of her Akhras family has become one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Pompeo said “many more” sanctions against the Assad government should be expected in the coming weeks and months.
“We will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict,” Pompeo said.
More than 700,000 people have died in Syria’s nine-year war.
The latest sanctions from Washington are also intended to punish any individuals, institutions, or companies conducting business with Damascus.
The action, known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, can also be used to target Assad’s main supporters, Russia, Iran, and Lebanon’s Hizbullah terrorist group.
The new sanctions will also impact China as well as regional players Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Gulf states seeking to reconcile with Syria as it attempts to rebuild following nine years of devastating civil war, the RFE/RL report said.
U.S. ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft told the UN Security Council on June 16 that the sanctions are designed to “deprive the Assad regime of the revenue and the support it has used to commit the large-scale atrocities and human rights violations that prevent a political resolution and severely diminish the prospects for peace.”
Craft said Assad must implement a Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire, elections, and political transition along with long-stalled UN-led talks.
“The Assad regime has a clear choice to make: pursue the political path established in Resolution 2254, or leave the United States with no other choice but to continue withholding reconstruction funding and impose sanctions against the regime and its financial backers,” Craft said.
The Caesar Act, which was passed by Congress in December, is named after a former Syrian military photographer who escaped the country in 2014 with 55,000 images of brutality in Assad’s jails since he launched a crackdown on protests three years earlier.
The Syrian government has regained most territory from various rebel factions, except for an enclave in northwest Idlib Province and some Kurdish-controlled areas.