The Assad regime is still on the European Commission’s blacklist of nations it considers a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the EU executive said on Wednesday.
Criteria used to blacklist countries include weak sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency about the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
The commission said it added jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes.”
The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks. Syria was ranked the least free country in the world on the 2019 Freedom House’s index of freedom.
The European Union last month announced it was imposing new sanctions on Syrian businessmen and companies directly linked to the Assad regime, including a close associate of the regime.
The EU said its leaders met in Brussels and agreed to expand the list of sanctions against the Assad regime by adding 11 Syrian businessmen and five entities linked to the regime to the sanctions list.
In 2017, the European Union imposed similar sanctions on senior Assad regime officials in response to their involvement in the chemical weapons program.
The EU began imposing sanctions on high-ranking Assad regime officials, including Bashar al-Assad and members of his family following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011 as well as on companies dealing with the regime.
The EU sanctions on the Assad regime, which were consistently strengthened between 2011 and 2014, are one of the toughest sanctions in the EU history. They include a ban on almost all forms of trade with the Assad regime, especially in the oil sector and petroleum products. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad regime continues to use various means to put pressure on civilians and those who took part in the revolutionary movement in Dara’a province. Civil activists, political dissidents, and former FSA fighters are banned from disposing of their property in the province.
Local activists reported that the Assad government’s institutions had seized the property of many civilians who took part in the revolutionary movement, including former members of the local councils and relief workers.
The activists added that the Assad regime confiscated the movable and immovable property of a large number of former FSA fighters and leaders, including those who remained in the province and those who were bussed to northern Syria as part of the forced mass displacement operations.
Former FSA fighters are required to obtain security clearance before they can sell or buy real estate property and other kinds of property. The Assad regime issues such clearances only to those who joined the ranks of the Assad regime forces.
Moreover, the Assad regime continues to carry out arrests in the province, targeting mainly former rebel leaders who agreed to enter into the so-called reconciliation deals with the regime. Dozens of former FSA fighters and members of the local councils have been detained in recent weeks.
The Syrian Coalition said that the increasing pressure the Assad regime is exerting on civilians in the areas it has recaptured following brutal bombing campaigns as well as the seizure of civilians’ property clearly shows that the Assad regime, after eight years of systematic killing and destruction, maintains its criminal behavior in dealing with the Syrian people.
The Assad regime seized the property of many people in Dara’a a few weeks after its forces retook control of the province, including women, a doctor, media activists, and refugees. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
Vice-President of the Syrian Coalition, Dima Moussa, said that the international consensus among participants in the Warsaw Conference, which considered Iran the biggest threat in the Middle East, should be followed by tough, practical measures twisting the arms of this state sponsoring cross-border terrorism.
Moussa underscored that the Iranian danger is not limited to aiding Assad in the killing of the Syrian people only but also represents a threat to the security of the whole region. She noted that Iran is sending sleeper cells and sectarian militias to many countries in the region.
Moussa said that Iran's sprawling tentacles are aimed at creating chaos and instability in the countries of the region. She noted that Iran is serving its goals through the Houthi militia in Yemen, the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, and dozens of terrorist militias operating in Syria and Iraq.
Moreover, Moussa voiced her support for the US calls for the withdrawal the European countries from the Iran nuclear deal as Iran poses a serious threat to international peace and security.
President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, expressed his support to tightening of the sanctions on Iran as he stressed that “the Iranian regime’s terrorist actions in the region are self-evident.”
Moussa stressed the importance of supporting all countries, especially the Arab countries, to take serious steps leading to the isolation of Iran and ending its interference in the affairs of countries of the region and its spreading of terrorism, especially in Syria and Iraq.
The Warsaw Conference convened on Wednesday bringing together foreign ministers and officials from more than 60 countries, most notably the United States and Saudi Arabia with the aim of ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)