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.