WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama extended a freeze on Syrian assets to the country’s government and its entire leadership.
The order issued Wednesday was the most expansive yet targeting Syria, naming President Bashar Assad and including any "senior official of the Government of Syria" or "any agency or instrumentality of the Government of Syria, or owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Syria or by an official or officials of the Government of Syria."
The order cites "Syria’s continuing escalation of violence against the people of Syria — including through attacks on protesters, arrests and harassment of protesters and political activists, and repression of democratic change, overseen and executed by numerous elements of the Syrian government."
It essentially cuts off Syria from the United States and bans any U.S. business from trading with Syria’s government or its leaders.
Previous freezes, launched by President Bush in 2004, targeted only individuals believed to be involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction and in subterfuge in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Israeli and U.S. officials have said there has been a sea change in attitudes toward Syria since its brutal crackdown launched earlier this month against democracy protesters, and since it helped facilitate a breach by Palestinian protesters of its border with Israeli forces on the Golan Heights last Sunday.
While both governments reviled the Assad regime in the past, officials said, it was seen as preferable to the chaos that might ensue should it be overthrown.
Insiders are saying that the Israeli and U.S. governments are now shifting gears and will not stand in the way of regime change.