Defection perk: U.S. lifts sanctions on former Syrian prime minister
Syrian former prime minister Riad Hijab holds a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman on August 14, 2012.
August 14th, 2012
02:45 PM ET

Defection perk: U.S. lifts sanctions on former Syrian prime minister

By Jamie Crawford

The United States lifted sanctions Tuesday against Riyad Hijab, the Syrian prime minister who recently defected from the regime of Bashar al-Assad and fled to neighboring Jordan.

The Treasury Department said that Hijab's ties to the Assad regime are severed, so he is no longer a senior official in the Syrian government and his name will be removed from the Treasury's list of people whose assets are frozen.

"Recent civilian and military defections from the Assad regime are further indications that the government is crumbling and losing its grip on power," David S. Cohen, the Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a written statement announcing the action. "The United States encourages other officials within the Syrian government, in both the political and military ranks, to take similarly courageous steps to reject the Assad regime and stand with the Syrian people."

The announcement comes amid revelations of Hijab's efforts to ensure that he would not experience reprisals for his short tenure as prime minister.

As Security Clearance reported earlier this week, Hijab had sought out contacts with the United States and other governments before his defection to receive guarantees that he would not be prosecuted for his role in the Assad government.

"He wanted assurances from the opposition that a post-Assad Syria will take into account all Syrians, including minorities, and there will not be revenge attacks on those who at one time supported the regime," an administration official said. The official described Washington's role as that of a "middleman."

The Treasury said one of the advantages of levying sanctions on specific people is that the sanctions can be lifted rapidly once the people leave the Assad regime.

Hijab's accountability as a former member of the Assad government would be addressed in another forum, U.S. officials said.

"This is not a judgment about his accountability, which is something for the Syrian people to decide," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday. "This is a judgment about whether he should continue to be subject to sanctions which are designed to squeeze the regime until it stops its bloody offensive. So this guy is no longer part of that offensive. And so, he should not be subject to sanctions."

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. man air max 89

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    August 16, 2012 at 6:47 am | Reply
  2. Canuck

    Seriously how are these trolls still posting on this website. Anybody who stands by people who slaughter innocent people, who are just trying to protest peacefully should be dealt the same kind of fate. Saeed do the world a favour go chug a bottle of draino A.S.A.P.

    Don't get me wrong I'm not a fan of how the west has gotten involved in the Middle East but if they hadn't gotten involved who would...China (the same country that forces abortions up to the 8th month)...Russia (the same country that sells weapons to all the countries that cause the instability in the Middle East).

    Don't get angry at the west because once your women have rights they won't put up with the crap that you get away and you'll be stuck pumping camels.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • ed gein

      How is it that all those who post from Canada have to let the rest of us know that "I'm Canadian"? Are the Canadian people truly that insecure? (blame your Canadian media for that) Apart from being smug, self-righteous, sanctimonious and pretty damn whiney, we could've done far worse for neighbors. BTW, your Prime Minister has his tongue firmly wedged up Barry's @ss.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • Sergey

      Aha. China means bad, but Russia supplies weapons there ... uuh what scoundrels! And the West (especially USA) just did a little angel, to protect peaceful people? O_o
      You yourself are not funny on your own words? Less than listen to your media.

      PS Russia never sold weapons to the East. We have a few of his own -). For sale, but only defensive (they can not fight), but not offensive.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Reply
    • Sergey

      And do not forget ... that the Eastern countries – it is our (Russia, China) neighbors. There are many Russian lives, among them our friends (and mine as well), relatives. Our country has a major stake in stability and peace in these countries, by definition.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • CelestialOne

      Canuck,
      Another airhead who has no idea what is going on in the media except been fed biased misinformation by the western media.

      August 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Reply
      • usamare

        So what's really going on? Terrorists taking over? The West trying to steal oil? Isreal magically turning people against their own good and righteous governments? From here it looks like people want self determination, are being killed by their government to stop such thinking, and have revolted as a result. The most obvious answer is usually closest to the truth, but if there's some impossibly complicated conspiracy afoot, please share it.

        August 15, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Here goes another weak minded Tea Partier(Canuck) vomiting out his ignorance on the Middle East, calling the rest of us "trolls". Evidently, he doesn't think we have a right to our opinions!

      August 15, 2012 at 12:41 am | Reply
  3. Marine5484

    Why wouldn't the goons in Washington do that? After all, they paid this joker to defect in the first place!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  4. Sergey

    All these "sided with the opposition" – the rats are leaving the sinking ship. Shame!
    Assad hold on, even if you're alone.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Thank you, Sergey. That's what I say! The more the goons in Washington rant against Assad, the more I admire him!

      August 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  5. saeed

    i see the desperation is kicking in for the usa and britain greece economy fell by 7% of nominal gdp the last 3 months thats 1/10 of the economy dissappering in 3 months. go and ficks your own countrys europeans swwi,nne cant even win at the olympics without your half breeds and nigg,geers.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Moses

      No Saeed would say the N word. You're calling attention to yourself which makes people realize you're name isn't saeed. you're not arab. Arabs don't have that type of terminology. the first call to prayer was done by a black muslim. You fail.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply

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