WASHINGTON (AFP) – President George W. Bush said Wednesday he was widening US sanctions against Syria, targeting officials engaged in “public corruption,” amid charges Damascus is destabilizing Iraq and Lebanon.
Bush announced his decision to freeze additional Syrian assets in an executive order and a message to the US Congress — neither of which spelled out which officials would be affected.
The order targets officials deemed “to be responsible for, to have engaged in, to have facilitated, or to have secured improper advantage as a result of, public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Syria.”
“I wish to emphasize, as well, my ongoing concern over the destabilizing role Syria continues to play in Lebanon, including its efforts to obstruct, through intimidation and violence, Lebanon’s democratic processes,” Bush said.
The order “also broadens the scope of individuals who may be sanctioned due to their involvement in actions or decisions of the Syrian regime that undermine efforts to stabilize Iraq, including actions or decisions that allow Syrian territory to be used for this purpose,” said spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Johndroe indicated in a statement that the US government would “soon” have a list of officials targeted under the order.
“While the Syrian Government has taken some steps against terrorists aimed at ensuring Syria’s internal stability, Syria remains the primary route for terrorists crossing into Iraq,” the spokesman said.
“There are many verifiable actions Syria could take in this regard (such as strengthening its visa requirements) that would demonstrate a willingness to assist the efforts of the Iraqi government and the international community to stabilize Iraq,” he said.