U.S. imposes tough sanctions against Syrian president, other officials
The U.S. imposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials.
May 18th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

U.S. imposes tough sanctions against Syrian president, other officials

President Barack Obama Wednesday imposed tough sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials in an effort to stop the regime's fierce crackdown on protests, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

The sanctions also target two top Iranian officials whose unit was a "conduit for Iranian material support" to Syrian intelligence, according to a copy of the executive order issued by the White House.

Obama signed the order Wednesday, a move a senior administration official described as a "decisive step to increase pressure" on the Syrian government to end violence, intimidation and pressure "and begin transitioning to a democratic" process.

Condemning Syria's use of violence and intimidation against its people, the official said al-Assad "must put an end to the attacks on protesters, mass arrests and harassment" of citizens expressing rights and "must begin to introduce change."

The Syrian government has launched a clampdown on peaceful demonstrators since mid-March. The United Nations last week said as many as 850 people have died in the protests, and there have been thousands of arrests.

Along with al-Assad, the other senior Syrian officials are Farouk al-Shara, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Interior Minister General Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud, the head of Syrian military Abdul Fatah Qudsiya and Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, head of Syrian military intelligence.

"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 Treasury Department said in a statement detailing the steps.

The senior administration official said it's too early to estimate how much will be frozen.

"As I am sure you know, when we take actions obligatory for institutions to freeze, many institutions around the world might" do the same thing, the official said. "Amplifications around that may be significant."

Treasury also announced the designation of 10 individuals and entities under an executive order signed by Obama on April 29.

It targets Syrian officials and others "responsible for human rights abuses, including repression against the Syrian people, as well as a set of companies tied to Syrian corruption."

One is Hafiz Makhluf, a cousin of al-Assad and a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the overarching civilian intelligence service in Syria.

"Makhluf was given a leading role in responding to protests in Syria, and was heavily involved in the Syrian regime's actions" in the city of Daraa, the official said, where many protesters have been killed.

Also designated were two Iranians: Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, which is called "the conduit for Iranian material support" to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, and the other is Mohsen Chizari, a senior IRGC-QF officer who serves as its commander of operations and training.

"It is a completely hypocritical act" of the Iranian government and the Quds force to "lend assistance in oppression" against those expressing human rights, the senior official said. "It is something we are concerned about," the official added.

Other agencies designated are the Syrian Military Intelligence, the Syrian National Security Bureau, which is an element of the ruling Baath party; and Syrian Air Force Intelligence.

All are said to be involved in the actions against demonstrators.

Air Force Intelligence personnel allegedly "fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds of demonstrators" in late April after noon prayers, the Treasury Department said. At least 43 people were killed.

- CNN's Elise Labott and Adam Levine contributed to this report

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Filed under: Syria • U.S.
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Tom

    How stupid .......our own government would do the same if we were rioting in the streets. Has everyone forgotten Rodney King? Riots have killed thousands in the US if you check your history. Riots must be suppressed for the good of law abiding citizens. These muslim protesters are like wild hoodlems not peaceful and educated demonstrators. And it is not our job to tell other soverign nations how to manage their people.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. douglas

    I wish for once we could just stay out of the lives and business of Middle East countries, and just let them work it out for themselves. I'm so tired of seeing our government put forth resources (our tax dollars) towards others when our economy desperately needs it.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heavyarms

      awwww.... what a selfish thing to say 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Average Joe

    We should be supporting the syrians not punishing their president who is going to hold on any reform for a while because of this. Have sanctions like this ever work?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Human Tumor

      No, but what are we supposed to do? Commit more military action to yet another area? It's already up to 3 fronts, might as well make it 4. Hell, let's just go for a baker's dozen.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davethecanuck

      If by work you mean...
      Have sanctions ever been a magic bullet capable of solving all the problems in a region and ending a conflict... No.

      Do they accomplish certain goals and prevent undesirable events from occuring that often go unnoticed or unappreciated by people who don't take the time to understand the effects... then yes.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thereisnogod

    Why can't we just let the rest of the world kill themselves and not meddle. If we wait long enough they all will and we don't have to spend a cent of our tax dollars to meddle where we are hated. Heck we overthrew a tyrannical regime back in 1776 why can't these people help themselves. I am tired of having to be the world police. If they want us to be the world police we're gonna have to charge them for the cost of troops and missiles.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myself

      If you don't intervene at times then the meltdown will spill over in other US interests. So you either pay on the front end or the back end. The back end is usually more painful from what I understand.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Qw75

      Would you say that we overthrew that tyrannical regime in 1776 all by ourselves, or was there perhaps another country that contributed financially to that revolution? Hint: there was.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sayer

      We got help from the French back in 1776.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davethecanuck

      I'm sure modern regimes having weapons and airpower that allow them to control their population with greater ease and inflict greater fear and devastation has nothing to do with the populations being unable to overthrow them.
      Americans in the 1700's who fought troops with muskets are just braver than the cowards who run from helecopter gunships and rocket barrages.
      You're right, why should a country who allows weapons manufacturers to produce and export weapons to these dictatorships, while claiming to be a beacon for all things just and fair in the world, care when those weapons or any weapon is used to commit an attrocity?

      You are a pathetic human being.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stewie

    this is crazy already leave the other countrys alone they have been fighting for 100 of years but yet we still try and be the world police. and thus we are 14trillion in the hole because we think all well not our money lets do this. obama is turning into another bush for sure

    May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SKW

    It's about time. We need to take care of our own right here in America..but those sanctions in place.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dissenter

    Sanctions don't hurt governments, they hurt the people those governments control.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    About time. This should mean one more brutal government replaced. That leaves N.K. Iran China and random dictatorships in africa that need to be replaced.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • EA

      Don't forget Iran.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JRC

    What they ought to do is impose tough sanctions on Pakistan instead.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Beach Bum

    Is it just me, or does this clown, Bashar al-Assad look like Hitler?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rauf

    It is about time, I still can not understand why Bashar is protected from us. He and Qadaffi are killing their own people???
    We only helping Lybia????????

    May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JOE

    Deport all illegalls. That's all the descendants of european immigrants who now reside in Old Mexico. That's California, Neveda, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and give this region back to the Mexicans, who this region truely belong to. So let's start deporting the GOP, rush limbough, sara palin, hannity. beck, bachman, the hitler youth donald trump, jack cafferty and lou dobbs.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      First of all, Texas was an independent nation before it decided to become part of the U.S.

      Secondly, Mexico lost California, Arizona, and New Mexico after the Mexican War. Mexico surrendered to us and as concession gave us the land so we wouldn't take over their country for good. Might as well should have taken over, then our border would only be a few hundred miles instead of thousands.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Let's get sanctions on the murderer state of Israel that just killed 14 people 2 days ago. Let's get sanctions on Bahrain government that have been ruling for 200 years and are responsible for the killing of all those people in the recent month.. Let's leave Syria alone untill we see that this is a propaganda generated by Saudi Arabia to cause the syrian regime hate... Don't get fooled and I hope dumb Obama wakes up and starts acting right

    May 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      God I hope whatever you do doesn't require thought.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vicky C

    We cannot, nor should we, police the world. Let Syria, Libya and all the others have their civil wars. We had ours, now it is their turn. We may not agree with the policies, but it is not our country. To top it all off, we need to fix ourselves, save our own citizens, before we go saving the rest of the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack87

      This isn't a "civil war". This is a dictator killing UNARMED people, for Christ's sake. If the US doesn't do anything about it, it will get ugly and will affect US interests with our MIDEAST allies like Lebanon & Israel. DON'T WORRY, THESE ARE JUST SANCTIONS, NOT MILITARY INTERVENTION.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rauf

    We should impose sanction on Bashar only and not on the Syrian people

    May 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
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