US sanctions Syrian businessman Samer Foz, entities for links to Assad

Sanctions were placed on Syrian businessman Samer Foz, a Syrian industrialist behind high-end developments - including the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus - for enriching Bashar Assad. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 12 June 2019

US sanctions Syrian businessman Samer Foz, entities for links to Assad

  • US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Samer Foz for links to Assad
  • Treasury said also sanctioning entities that imported Iranian oil into Syria

WASHINGTON: The US on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Samer Foz, a Syrian industrialist behind high-end developments, including the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, for allegedly enriching President Bashar Assad.

"This Syrian oligarch is directly supporting the murderous Assad regime and building luxury developments on land stolen from those fleeing his brutality," Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in an announcement.

Sanctions were placed on Syrian businessman Foz and his family, who have close ties to Assad and who Washington said has made millions by developing properties on land seized from those who have fled the Syrian war.

The sanctions were being placed on Foz, his siblings Amer and Husen, and the family-owned Aman Holding, a company run by the Foz family from the coastal city of Latakia, the Treasury said.

Foz-owned ASM International General Trading and its affiliates throughout the Middle East were also included in the sanctions. ASM is involved in grain and sugar trade, and oil field operations.

"Samer Foz, his relatives, and his business empire have leveraged the atrocities of the Syrian conflict into a profit-generating enterprise," Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

The Treasury Department said Foz had shipped into Syria oil from its ally Iran, despite unilateral US sanctions on all exports out of the Islamic republic.

In the notice, the Treasury Department also said that Foz had taken advantage of an order issued by Assad in 2012 to expel residents of poorer areas to make way for luxury construction.

"This tactic -- taking over property owned by Syrian citizens and handing the land to wealthy regime insiders to develop in exchange for revenue sharing -- has emerged as Assad's go-to strategy for high-end reconstruction in war-torn Syria," the Treasury Department said.

Under the sanctions, any of Foz's US assets will be frozen and any US transactions with him or his properties forbidden.

The US Treasury said it was also sanctioning Synergy SAL and BS Company, which have imported tens of thousands of metric tons of Iranian oil into Syria.

Meanwhile, the Four Seasons hotel has become a base for UN employees working in Syria, a point of controversy for Assad opponents who question where the money paid by international staff goes.

 


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 44 min 30 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”