US sanctions target Syrian president’s son, Syrian army unit

The United States has issued sanctions targeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's son, Hafez, among other individuals and entities. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 July 2020

US sanctions target Syrian president’s son, Syrian army unit

  • Among the 14 blacklisted Wednesday were Assad's son, Hafez, a Syrian businessman and nine entities
  • The sanctions come as the Syrian leader grapples with a deepening economic crisis after a decade of war

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday imposed fresh sanctions aimed at depriving the Syrian government of funds, and warned that Washington would blacklist anyone doing business with President Bashar Al-Assad's government until he supports a negotiated end to the country's nearly decade-long war.
Among the 14 blacklisted Wednesday were Assad's son, Hafez, a Syrian businessman and nine entities a senior US official accused of helping to fund the Syrian government's "campaign of terror", as well as the Syrian Arab Army's First Division unit, among others.
"The steady drumbeat of designations on persons and entities that support the Assad regime will continue until the regime and its associates cease obstructing a peaceful political resolution of the conflict" as called for by the UN Security Council, a senior US official told reporters.
The sanctions, imposed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act and other measures, come as the Syrian leader grapples with a deepening economic crisis after a decade of war.
It marks the second round of sanctions imposed by the Washington under the Caesar Act, which aims to deter "bad actors who continue to aid and finance the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people while simply enriching themselves."
"It is time for Assad's needless, brutal war to end.  This, above all, is what our sanctions campaign is meant to bring about," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Already, US and European Union sanctions have frozen the assets of the Syrian state and hundreds of companies and individuals. Washington has banned American exports to and investment in Syria, as well as transactions involving oil and hydrocarbon products.
The new sanctions cover many more sectors, and they can freeze assets of anyone dealing with Syria, regardless of nationality. The measure also targets those dealing with entities from Russia and Iran, Assad’s main backers.
Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread hardship among ordinary residents, where the currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies. 


Brian Hook: Arms embargo to be extended one way or another

Updated 33 min 7 sec ago

Brian Hook: Arms embargo to be extended one way or another

  • The special representative for Iran asked members to respect the wishes of Middle East nations that “live in Iran’s dark shadow” and vote for the extension.

NEW YORK: The US has introduced a draft UN Security Council resolution to extend the Iran arms embargo on Iran which expires in October.

In a telephonic press briefing, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran, said the resolution was “a clean rollover of the existing arms embargo” which was put in place in 2007.

“Letting the arms embargo expire was a big deficiency of the Iran nuclear deal. Its expiration should never have been based on an artificial timeline of five years. It was an irresponsible concession,” he said.

Hook called the new proposal “a compromise text” with the US adding provisions that had been supported by all permanent members of the council.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft called on all members to “wake up to the real world implications of allowing the arms embargo to lapse. The UNSC’s purpose is to promote global peace and security. Failure to extend the arms embargo would make a mockery of that responsibility.”

Hook asked members to respect the wishes of Middle East nations that “live in Iran’s dark shadow” and vote for the extension.

The diplomat read a quote from a letter by the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who came together to ask the council to extend the arms embargo.

“(Iran) has continued to proliferate weapons across the region as an integral part of its expansionist regional policy and longstanding interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, including GCC member states, in clear violation of the UN Charter. We have stressed that Iran has been a state sponsor of terrorism in our region and has actively incubated, trained, equipped, and directed violent armed terrorists throughout the region.”
 

Hook urged council members to respect the wishes of those closest to the conflict and vote for the extension:

“Abstaining may carry a certain appeal for those who want to have it both ways, to express concern without addressing the concern. But abstentions will not be forgotten by nations in the region who are counting on council members to vote yes.”

Hook resigned this week. Asked by Arab News what his successor, Elliott Abrams, would bring to the table, Hook said: “People are getting an upgrade. He has been working on the Middle East’s issues for decades. He will do a great job on this file.”

Abrams’s nomination had immediately triggered speculations that a “snapback activation” would follow.

Critics argue that since the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran, it is legally unable to trigger the snapback move, which faces opposition from Russia and China.

In answer to the claim, the US has circulated a legal memo explaining its rights under resolution 2231 to initiate the snapback.

“It’s important for people to define their terms. The Iran deal is a political arrangement consisting of non-binding political commitments,” Hook said. “So those who argue that a state cannot avail itself of legal rights if it is in violation of corresponding legal obligations don’t know how to read 2231.”

But Hook reiterated the administration’s present focus was on the arms embargo, and ensuring that it passes. “We certainly made the case on the merits for why it needs to be extended, and we’ll see how the council lines up. But … one way or the other, we are going to ensure that the arms embargo is extended,” he said.