KEY POINTS

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that there is a total of 17 new sanctions being placed against the Syrian government. 
  • Syria’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem compared the sanctions to the death of George Floyd.
  • Blacklisting Khodr Taher Bin Ali, a Syrian businessman, and several of his firms should help disrupt the funding flow that helps keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced over a dozen new sanctions on government officials, military personnel, and business leaders tied to Syrian President Bashar Assad. The new sanctions come after Syria’s foreign minister responded over the weekend to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which was passed in December, by drawing comparisons to the death of George Floyd, saying the sanctions “suffocated” Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that U.S. sanctions against the Syrian government will not end until Assad resolves the nine-year civil war. Assad and his military have used chemical weapons and other inhumane war tactics in an attempt to regain control. 

“Thus far, Assad’s foreign enablers have only emboldened his regime’s cronies and deepened their involvement in the exploitative financial and military apparatus that underpins the regime’s survival,” Pompeo said in a statement. “There is a clear path forward.  The Syrian people have suffered enough.”

Head of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, Husam Muhammad Louka, was added to the sanctions blacklist on Wednesday. Khodr Taher Bin Ali, a Syrian businessman, and 13 of his firms were also placed under heavy sanctions. 

The U.S. Treasury and State Department said the action was designed to hold individuals accountable for helping a government accused by Western officials and human-rights groups of committing war crimes throughout its long-running civil war, including the use of chemical weapons.

Blacklisting Bin Ali and several of his companies should help disrupt the funding flow that helps keep Assad and his family in power.

Pompeo announced that there is a total of 17 new sanctions being placed against the Syrian government. 

“Today, the United States is announcing 17 Syria sanctions designations as part of the Administration’s continuing campaign to achieve the goals of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 and hold Assad and his enablers accountable for their crimes, including the killings at Armanaz and in countless other Syrian communities,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Syria’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem gave a video address to the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday and compared the new sanctions to the death of  Floyd, a Black American who died in May while handcuffed and after a police officer knelt on his neck. Floyd's death led to nationwide protests.

“The real purpose of the Act is to put pressure on Syrians, their livelihoods, and their daily lives. It is an inhumane attempt to suffocate Syrians, just like George Floyd and others were cruelly suffocated in the United States,” Al-Moualem said.

Al-Moualem also referenced how the sanctions are similar to how "Israel suffocates Palestinians on a daily basis.”