debkafile reports: Washington clamps sanctions on four close Assad allies including his contact-man with North Korea

The Bush administration is applying the stick-and-carrot treatment to Syrian president Bashar Assad. Three days after secretary of state Condoleezza Rice invited Damascus to the Annapolis peace conference at a meeting in Ankara with Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem, the US Treasury for the first time imposed stiff sanctions and froze the assets of four close Assad allies. This clampdown signals the Bush administration’s disbelief in the good faith of Mualem’s hands-off pledge with regard to Syrian meddling in the Lebanese presidential election next week.
This pledge nonetheless bought Damascus a US invitation to Annapolis and the Golan issue’s inclusion in the conference agenda. The sanctions were imposed to hold Syria to its bargain and as a reminder that more might be on the way.
The true functions of the four officials blacklisted by the US Treasury are disclosed here by debkafile‘s sources:
Col. Hafiz Makhluf, a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, is also revealed here as the Assad clan’s senior contact-man with the Syrian tycoon Rami Makhluf and controller of the sale and transfers of Syrian weapons to terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.
Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, Syria’s deputy vice president for security affairs is a shadowy figure in the president’s bureau, who is disclosed here as the coordinator of the president’s ties with Syrian intelligence bodies including those operating outside the country. Khayrbik is revealed here as the handler of Assad’s exchanges with North Korea and a key player of Syria’s nascent nuclear projects which Israel attacked on Sept. 6
Assaad Halim Hardan, a pro-Syrian Lebanese lawmaker and a senior official in the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party of Lebanon. Our counter-terror sources report that SSNP, far from being a political grouping, is an ultra-violent militia controlled by Syrian military intelligence, which has been dedicated since the 1980s to attacking American targets. Last month the group was ordered by Damascus to attach itself to Hizballah as an integral armed force.
Wi’am Wahhab, a former Lebanese minister, acts as Syria’s agent of influence in Lebanese politics.
The US Treasury Department blacklisted all four under executive orders aimed at halting actions to undermine Lebanon’s democratic processes or aid Syria’s support of international terrorism. The sanctions imposed prohibit Americans from doing business with them and freeze any US assets they may have.

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