Assad’s kin eyed in Syria sanctions

A cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad is a target of the Bush administration’s recently expanded sanctions of that country.

This month the White House expanded anti-Syria sanctions to encompass businesses that facilitate corruption, targeting practices that some observers believe to be the lifeblood of the regime.

Last week it named Rami Makhluf, a leading Syrian business and Assad’s relative.

“Makhluf has become a focal point of Syria’s telecommunications, commercial, oil, gas and banking sectors,” said a U.S. Treasury statement. “Despite President Assad’s highly publicized anti-corruption campaigns, Makhluf remains one of the primary centers of corruption in Syria.”

The sanctions derive from the 2003 Syria Accountablity Act, which was passed after lobbying by the pro-Israel community.

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