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Thursday, May 19, 2011

US sanctions Assad and six others

The United States has finally decided to sanction Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and six of his top aides (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The sanctions freeze any assets that Mr. Assad and the others have in American financial institutions, and prohibit trade with them. Similar sanctions against Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, led to the seizure of more than $30 billion in assets, though it is believed that Mr. Assad has far fewer vulnerable assets. In addition to him, the sanctions affect the vice president, the prime minister, the interior and defense ministers, and the directors of military intelligence and political security.

The sanctions come amid growing signs that the government feels emboldened after staggering in the face of an unprecedented challenge to 40 years of rule by the Assad family. Officials have said they believe they have the upper hand and talk in weeks, not months, about putting an end to protests that erupted across the breadth of the country, from the southern steppe and Mediterranean coast to the outskirts of Damascus.

In an interview published Wednesday with a privately owned Syrian newspaper, aligned with the government, Mr. Assad declared that the tumult was coming to a close and acknowledged that his security forces had made mistakes in a crackdown so broad that hundreds of detainees were being held in schools and soccer fields.

Human rights activists have said at least 700 people were killed and 10,000 people arrested, as the military laid siege to at least four towns and cities.

“President Assad gave assurances that Syria had overcome the crisis it went through and that events were coming to an end,” the daily quoted him as saying.

The president also told the delegation that 4,000 police officers were undergoing what it called training to “prevent these excesses,” without giving further details.
Sounds like too little, too late to have an effect.

More from the Washington Post here.

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