Across the Bay

Friday, July 01, 2005

Rusty and Ghazi

The US is apparently freezing the assests of Rustum Ghazali and Ghazi Kanaan in the US. The action is "intended to financially isolate bad actors supporting Syria's efforts to destabilize its neighbors."

Before this came out, Josh Landis didn't think it would make too much of a difference. He told Annia Ciezadlo (yes, her! You may roll your eyes!): "It would hurt them a little bit, on a personal level, if their houses in Virginia Beach were taken away and their kids couldn't go to American universities." "But the regime would tough it out. They have toughed out much worse than that. These guys don't have to go to America--they can go to Paris."

While I'm sure there are other places they could stash their assests (not necessarily France), the move is still symbolically significant. In fact, if you read Ciezadlo's article and the recommendations of all the opposition activists she spoke to, they believe that there needs to be a distinction in US policy between the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people (even if the Kurds are already sympathetic). Such a move, as opposed to full-blown sanctions, makes such a distinction clear, if nothing else.

Needless to say, Imad Mustapha will be asking for "clarifications." So, be warned, should you be flipping through channels and you fall upon Imad giving one of his painful performances. Also, I would watch out for an epic op-ed by Bouthi Shaaban somewhere. Speaking of which, she has gotten a beating lately in the Kuwaiti press from Ahmad al-Jarallah -- see also here -- and Fouad al-Hashem. But honestly, who can blame them? She's insufferable.