The United States has imposed a new set of sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's wife and her father, in the latest round of measures against the regime and the ruling class.
In a statement published yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the sanctions against the Syrian dictator's British-born wife Asma Al-Assad, accusing her of "impeding efforts to promote a political resolution of the Syrian conflict." He stated that she has "spearheaded efforts on behalf of the regime to consolidate economic and political power, including by using her so-called charities and civil society organizations."
He also announced sanctions against her immediate family including her London-based consultant cardiologist father Fawaz Akhras, her mother Sahar Otri Akhras, her uncle Eyad Akhras, and her brother Firas Al-Akhras, all of whom are British nationals.
Their inclusion in the sanctions, said Pompeo, are because both the Assad and Akhras families "have accumulated their ill-gotten riches at the expense of the Syrian people through their control over an extensive, illicit network with links in Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Syrian people continue to wait in long lines for bread, fuel, and medicine as the Assad regime chooses to cut subsidies for these basic essentials that Syrians need."
The Syrian president's father-in-law, who reportedly resides in West London, remains active in supporting Al-Assad by running the pro-regime British Syrian Society, which previously facilitated propaganda trips to Syria for journalists and Members of Parliament. He is also a Harley Street doctor.
The sanctioning of Asma Al-Assad and her family has long been called for, and comes after her eldest son –19-year-old Hafez – was sanctioned by the US in July in efforts to prevent him from attending a Western university and channelling funds to his father's regime from abroad.
In addition to the sanctions on the Akhras family, the US' Department of Treasury also imposed sanctions on the commander of Syrian military intelligence General Kifah Moulhem due to "his role as one of the architects of the Syrian people's suffering…in preventing a ceasefire in Syria." The Central Bank of Syria was also sanctioned, along with Al-Assad's key adviser Lina Al-Kinayeh and her husband, parliamentarian Mohammed Masouti.