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. 


Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

Updated 22 September 2020

Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

  • Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots
  • The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.
The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.
The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.
Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.
It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.
Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.
The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.
EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.