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Monday, May 2, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. sanctions Assad's brother (but not Assad) and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

WASHINGTON — The United States, nearly 50 days after the start of the Syrian revolt, has begun to impose sanctions on the regime of President Bashar Assad and on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


President Barack Obama has signed an order that imposed sanctions on several key members of the Assad regime accused of human rights abuses amid the killing of more than 500 civilians since March.

The Syrian president was not named in the sanctions, announced on April 29, Middle East Newsline reported. Instead, the White House sanctions — accompanied by an arms embargo by the European Union — were imposed on Assad's younger brother, Maher, commander of the Syrian Army's 4th Armored Division.

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The statement said the armored division has played a leading role in the bloody crackdown on the opposition, particularly in the southern city of Dera.

The Syrian opposition dismissed the U.S. sanctions as a meaningless gesture. The Washington-based Reform Party of Syria, citing the absence of sanctions on the president himself, said the administration must work to topple Assad.

"For the record, Maher Assad has never done business with the United States," RPS said.

"Does anyone at State [Department] thinks Maher Assad needs to do business here?"

"As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them," the White House said.

Officials acknowledged that the sanctions would not have a direct affect on the Assad regime. They said the administration has not identified Assad regime assets in the United States.

Assad's cousin, Atif Najib, was also designated for sanctions. Najib was identified as commander of Political Security Directorate in the Dera province during March 2011. General Intelligence Directorate chief Ali Mamluk, said to have been involved in the killings in Dera, was also cited for sanctions.

"This [presidential] order provides the United States with new tools to target individuals and entities determined to have engaged in human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repression; to be a senior official of an entity whose property is blocked pursuant to the order; to have provided material support to, or to be owned or controlled by, persons blocked under the order," the White House said.

The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said to maintain a large presence in Syria. The White House said IRGC's Quds Force, under U.S. sanctions since 2007, was helping the Assad regime in the crackdown, but did not elaborate.

"The conduit for this Iranian material support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate is the IRGC-QF," the White House said.

"Despite the government of Iran's public rhetoric claiming revolutionary solidarity with people throughout the region, Iran's actions in support of the Syrian regime place it in stark opposition to the will of the Syrian people."

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