WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush ordered new sanctions on Wednesday to punish Syria for allegedly trying to undermine stability in Iraq and undercut Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.
Bush, in an executive order, said he was expanding sanctions against senior government officials in Syria and their associates deemed responsible for or to have benefited from public corruption.
The order named no specific officials.
The White House said Wednesday's order expanded action taken in May 2004 when Bush issued an executive order banning all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine. He ordered the sanctions then after long-standing complaints that the Middle Eastern nation was supporting international terror and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq.
The measures he imposed in 2004 also included a ban on flights to and from the United States; authorization to the Treasury Department to freeze assets of Syrian nationals and entities involved in terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, occupation of Lebanon or terror in Iraq; and restrictions on banking relations between U.S. banks and Syria's national bank.
The measures follow complaints by the United States that Syria was supporting militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and failing to stop guerrillas from crossing the border into Iraq.
A White House statement said Syria was undermining efforts to stabilize Iraq and allowing Syrian territory to be used for that purpose.
Moreover, the statement said, Syria's government "continues to pursue other activities that deny the Syrian people the political freedoms and economic prosperity they deserve, and that undercut the peace and stability of the region."
"Syria continues to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy, imprison democracy advocates, curtail human rights and sponsor and harbor terrorists," the statement said. "The United States will continue to stand with the people of Syria and the region as they seek to exercise their rights peacefully and to build a brighter future."