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It's time to sanction OFAC--not the civilian populations of Syria and Iran

By       Message Franklin P. Lamb       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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It's time to sanction OFAC--not the civilian populations of Syria and Iran

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Franklin Lamb

Damascus


US Department of Treasury OFAC
(Image by U.S. Goverment)
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Without much doubt, the US Congressional Zionist caucus was energized this week by PM Netanyahu's appeal to scuttle the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran. Even as it spent roughly 27% of his 40 minute speech wildly applauding. According to Capitol Hill sources, the caucus is salivating over its soon to be announced legislative scheme that demands yet more "cut em off at the knee's sanctions" (reportedly Dennis Ross's clarion call during this week's AIPAC-Netanyahu love fest). The new sanctions will ramp up economic pressures on the civilian populations of Iran and Syria.

As Congress pursues more civilian life disrupting sanctions for Syria, Iran and Russia, the main source will continue to be the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. This oft-described pro-Zionist highly politicized agency will continue to act as judge, jury and hangman as more US led-sanctions target the Syrian and Iranian civilian populations. OFAC's draconian economic sanctions are designed to achieve regime change in both countries. These new sanctions will be part of the legacy of David S. Cohen, Undersecretary of the Department of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence who has been the principal architect and inspiration for OFAC's efforts to impose harsh economic sanctions on Syria, Iran and now Russia. Cohen was confirmed by the US Senate last month to become Deputy Director of the CIA where he pledges to continue OFAC's "counter-terrorism" work. But what Cohen leaves behind at OFAC warrants close scrutiny given growing evidence that it operates without oversight or in accord with US Constitutional requirements.

As Congress pursues more civilian life disrupting sanctions for Syria, Iran and Russia, one of the main weapons will continue to be the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. This oft-described pro-Zionist highly politicized agency will continue to act as judge, jury and hangman as more US led-sanctions target the Syrian and Iranian civilian populations. OFAC's draconian economic sanctions are designed to achieve regime change in both countries.

The deepening impact of OFAC sanctions on Syria's children

Unsurprisingly, according to UNCHR and UNICEF factsheets, as well as reports from several humanitarian organizations working in neighborhoods across Syria, those most devastatingly being impacted by OFAC crafted sanctions are children. Going back to the 1980's Syria was among best countries in the Middle East and North Africa to be a child. Today, due in no small measure to US-led sanctions it is becoming one of the worst. The sanctions which increasingly affect most aspects of domestic life has caused the death of thousands before their first birthday with more than three million children suffering life-threatening effects from prolonged and rising malnutrition and food deprivation by the time they reach five years. Statistics on stunted growth, wasting, and underweight children are rising in many areas of Syria will millions more lacking clean water, sanitation facilities and access to medical care. According to UNICEF, these factors combined with poor nutrition and lack of safe drinking water means that only 3 in 5 children reach their fifth birthday. Many young children are suffering from anemia and Vitamin A deficiency and are increasingly suffering psychologically with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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During the 1980s Syria developed the best health system in the Middle East. Now as a result of the continuing sanctions era this is no longer the case because OFAC sanctions often scare off suppliers of medicines and medical equipment who do not want to battle OFAC for years in court.

One of the few hopeful signs these days for curtaining OFAC's excessive zeal for targeting some countries civilian population on behalf of another government in the same region is the fact that some Americans and international lawyers are beginning to object. They are objection to OFAC's unbridled power and the threat OFAC poses to the US Constitution and to American values including due process. The Bill of Rights require that the government take reasonable measures to ensure basic fairness to the private party and that the government follow procedures reasonably designed to protect against erroneous deprivation of the private party's interests." OFAC does none of these.

Congress gave OFAC the power to operate -- behind closed doors, without notice, and with no adequate procedures in place to challenge its arbitrary finger on the trigger threats and actions. OFAC designates and maintains a list of those it considers to be "global terrorists" and once on the list, a designee's "property and interests in property" in the United States are immediately blocked. This destroys trade to the targeted populations. The designee is prohibited from conducting any financial transaction in the U.S. OFAC also has the ability to block the assets of those who have not even been designated but are only under "investigation."

Among many recent politicized OFAC actions, the powerful agency has been accused of loosening carefully selected Syria sanctions to support the rebels in the civil war. In June of 2013 OFAC released a State of Policy permitting basis applications to permit services in the Syrian telecommunication industry to enable private persons to better access the Internet and also certain petroleum transactions benefiting only rebel forces.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)
 

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