Obama Renews Sanctions on Syria, Supports Syria-Israel Pact
Despite recent attempts to improve relations with Damascus, a senior official says the Obama administration has extended US sanctions on Syria.
Denouncing Damascus as a security threat which continued to dabble in “arms trade” and espouse “terrorism”, President Barack Obama signed an executive order renewing the five-year-old sanctions for another year, the State Department said Friday.
The sanctions block Syria’s access to certain US goods and freeze the assets of a number of individuals in the Middle Eastern country.
“The national emergency with respect to Syria remains in effect,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
“We continue to have serious concerns about Syria’s actions…. We need to see concrete steps from the Syrian government to move in another direction,” he said.
The development comes after the White House, in reverse of a policy of isolation, sent two senior diplomats to Damascus in an effort to improve ties.
Analysts say the renewal of sanctions shows that the Obama White House is not yet ready for a dramatic improvement in relations with the Middle Eastern country that it accuses of supporting terrorism.
Washington accuses Damascus of siding with resistance movements, namely the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah against Israel, supplying the groups with weaponry and financial assistance.
The US will support efforts to broker peace between Syria and Israel as part of a broader solution to the Middle East’s problems, a senior state department official said on Thursday, as the Obama administration accelerated efforts to engage its traditional foes. >>>