Libya Redux As US Escalates Syrian Showdown: Freezes Assets Of President Bashar al-Assad

Just because the US (and Sarkozy-led NATO) has done such a bang up job with Libya, the Nobel prize winner has decided to take his humanitarian intervention to Syria (unwillingly one must admit: after all Syria barely has any oil, and the risk of an escalation that will involve Israel is rather profound) where the US has just announced it is imposing sanctions and freezing the assets of president Bashar al-Assad and 6 aides, demanding that Syria "cease its brutal crackdown on protesters." And as if the sudden assassination of bin Laden was not enough, it now appears that the US administration (for right or wrong reasons) is dead set on antagonizing the entire Muslim crescent once again. Lastly we wonder, just how much of the USD jump over the past several weeks is due to the repatriation of dollars by other 3rd world 'dictators' in preparation (and avoidance) of comparable asset freezes against one and all?

From Reuters:

Targeting Assad personally with sanctions, which the United States and European Union have so far avoided, is a significant slap at Damascus and raises questions about whether Washington and the West may ultimately seek Assad's removal from power.

Syrian activists say at least 700 civilians have been killed in two months of clashes between government forces and protesters seeking an end to his 11-year rule. The protests in Syria began after demonstrations toppled authoritarian leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

The move, announced by the Treasury Department, freezes any assets of the Syrian officials that are in the United States or otherwise fall within U.S. jurisdiction and it generally bars U.S. individuals and companies from dealing with them.

In addition to Assad, the Treasury said the sanctions would target Vice President Farouq al-Shara, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Defense Minister Ali Habib as well as Abdul Fatah Qudsiya, the head of Syrian military intelligence, and Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, director of the political security directorate.

Of course, somehow we doubt the magnificent 7 had any assets, and most certainly any gold, left under American jurisdiction. We would bes surprised to say the least:

While it was not immediately clear what practical effect the sanctions would have or whether the seven had significant assets that would be captured by the U.S. move, the symbolic gesture was profound.

Well, the gesture may have been profound but it is indeed symbolic. What happens next when the response will be far more literal, is anybody's guess. But it's a good thing the Administration has gotten the hang of the margin hike strategy: even if nuclear war were to break out in the Middle East, a 100% cash collateral in Crude should guarantee that WTI never surpasses $9.95/barrel.