The US’s latest diplomatic cruise missile has just hit Syria’s former head of Military Intelligence, Asef Shawkat.
They’ve frozen all of his assets in the States. All US banks must block access to his accounts, and no American is allowed to do business with him.
He’s accused of supporting terrorism in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. These accusations come from his support for Hamas and Hizbollah (I wonder if that makes US-poster-child Rafiq Al-Hariri a terrorist too – he supported Hizbollah at various times in the late 1990s).
In June the US froze the assets of Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan (who later commited suicide) and Rustom Ghazleh (Syria’s Military Intelligence chief in Lebanon).
Revealingly, the US accuses him of being resposible for ‘Syria’s terrorism’: “Today’s action is a significant signal that those like Mr Shawkat who support Syrian terrorism will be held to account,” said Scott McClellan, the White House Spokesman. But Bashar still hasn’t been personally penalised – is this a signal that America holds members of Syria’s inner circle guilty of Syrian terrorism, without pinning the blame on bashar himself? Is this Bush’s way of leaving a door open for rapprochement with Bashar.