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President George W. Bush has signed an executive order seizing the U.S. assets of those who undermine Lebanon's legitimate government or democratic institutions or promote Syrian interference in Lebanon's affairs.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said that the executive order is intended to help protect Lebanese constitutional democracy. He says it is "another step to signal to people in Lebanon and outside of Lebanon that there will be consequences if they act to thwart the will of the Lebanese people and act against Lebanese law." It is targeted, he said, against those inside and outside of Lebanon whose loyalty lies neither with the Lebanese constitution nor with the country. In June, the United States barred entry to people deemed to be undermining Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says the action is aimed at bolstering Lebanon's democratically elected government:
"This comes out of our desire to make sure that we're doing what we can to support the forces of democracy in Lebanon."
The executive order does not identify precisely which individuals or entities will be affected by the sanctions. That responsibility, says Mr. Casey, lies with the U.S. Treasury Department:
"I suspect you'll see some designations under this order in a fairly short amount of time."
In June, Lebanese parliamentarian Walid Eido was killed in a car bombing that also claimed the lives of his son, two bodyguards, and six passers-by. Mr. Eido was the seventh anti-Syrian Lebanese leader to be assassinated in the past two years. He was a close friend of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was killed in a February 2005 suicide car bombing.
President George W. Bush says that the United States supports Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government and the Lebanese people's desire to live in peace.