The European Union on Monday targeted the drug-trafficking business model of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government with sanctions. EPA-EFE photo
April 24 (UPI) — European lawmakers on Monday blacklisted more than two dozen people, including family members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as the European Union targets drug production and trafficking they say supports the Middle Eastern country’s regime.
The 27-member bloc’s council, which defines the union’s political direction, imposed sanctions on 25 people, seven companies and what it described as a front charity responsible for the production, sale and trade of drugs, particularly the master synthetic and highly addictive amphetamine, which is common in the Middle East and linked to with terrorism in the region and in Europe.
According to the Union, the amphetamine business has become a cash funnel for Assad and his inner circle to support their repressive actions against the Syrian people.
Those targeted on Monday include Assad’s cousins, Wassim al-Assad, 42, and Mudar Rifaat al-Assad, who is in his 50s, as well as family member Samer Kamal al-Assad, 49, and several close family friends.
Wassim and Samer were sanctioned nearly a month ago in the US as the Biden administration also targeted the production and sale of illegal drugs.
The EU also hit regime-linked militia leaders, businessmen and individuals linked to the Syrian military on Monday, as well as several private security companies and their affiliates, accused of providing cover for regime-linked militias.
Russian engineering and construction company Stroytransgaz was sanctioned for taking over Syria’s largest phosphate mine, and the Areen Foundation, run by Assad’s wife Asma al-Assad, for channeling aid under regime policies under the guise of charity. .
The Dutch government described Monday’s action as targeting not only drug dealers but also human rights abusers and those who have made economic deals with Russia.
“Any assets in the EU belonging to individuals and organizations on the sanctions list have been frozen,” it said. statement explaining that the Netherlands sought to have this sanctions package passed.
“The sanctions target revenue models currently used by the regime that help prolong the Syrian conflict,” it said.
More than 322 people and 81 entities have been subject to asset freezes and travel bans since the EU approved sanctions against Syria in 2011 over the Assad regime’s violent crackdown on its citizens.