As part of its 7th set of US sanctions against Syria, which began in June, 2011, the Obama administration has targeted a messenger, a sometime spokeswoman, a positive image of Syria, someone people of all religions and cultures have easily identified with over the past several years, Dr. Bouthainia Shaaban. The US administration acted thus for the sole purpose of pressuring the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but has succeeded in undermining American values of freedom of expression much more.
On August 28, 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments targeted Dr. Bouthainia Shaaban, and froze any assets she might have in the US.
According to State Department spokesman, Victoria Nuland, who two US Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers speculate may view Dr. Shaaban as a rival of sorts given their job descriptions, and Dr. Shaaban's stellar performances during meetings with US officials both in the US and Syria, the explanation for blacklisting a Syrian nationalist and media advisor remains: "She (Dr. Shaaban) has served as the public mouthpiece for the repression of the regime."
No US official to date has stepped forward to defend the sanctions against Dr. Shaaban with any more substantive or detailed complaint or supporting evidence.
Theodore Kattouf, former US ambassador to Syria was reportedly astonished to see Dr. Shaaban's name on the latest sanctions list and he expressed on television his regret for such a bad decision. Former Ambassador Kattouf explained that sanctioning Dr.Shaaban was a serious mistake because Dr. Shaaban is well known of her positive and constructive attitudes and positions against wars and injustices and bloodshed.
True, Dr. Shaaban, among several others, is a trusted advisor to the Syrian administration. She presumably offers counsel and insights; perhaps much like Theodore Sorenson did for President John Kennedy, and Bill Moyers for Lyndon Johnson. But she is not and has never been a decision maker. Presumably her advice is considered, but who knows to what degree. Which advisor is also a key decision maker?
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