As a reminder: ‘Sour over Syria: American senators attack Russian banks’
Sep 18th, 2013 – In Cold War style, US Senators have urged the Obama administration to freeze assets of three major Russian banks, ban their activities in the US, and deny employees’ entry into the country on the suspicion they are doing business with the Assad regime.
Having failed to galvanize allies for military action, and politically trumped by President Putin’s proposal for peaceful intervention in Syria, American congressmen have now turned to soft power to regain a grip on the Syria conflict. The senators are blaming Russia’s banking giants VTB, Gazprombank, and Vnesheconombank -the state development bank known as VEB– for ‘undermining’ UN sanctions by ‘aiding Assad’.
“The Syrians could not conduct this war without Russian financing,” Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who represents the state of Connecticut, said at a US policy meeting on Iran and Syria at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington DC.
“We can freeze their assets. We can stop them from doing business in the United States, prevent their employees from traveling here and, in effect, impose very heavy financial pain on the Russians,” Blumenthal said.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is a staunch supporter of Israel
WASHINGTON, February 3th, 2014— The last time the nation’s most potent pro-Israel lobbying group lost a major showdown with the White House was when President Ronald Reagan agreed to sell Awacs surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia over the group’s bitter objections.
Since then, the group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has run up an impressive record of legislative victories in its quest to rally American support for Israel, using a robust network of grass-roots supporters and a rich donor base to push a raft of bills through Congress. Typically, they pass by unanimous votes.
But now Aipac, as the group is known, once again finds itself in a very public standoff with the White House. Its top priority, a Senate bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, has stalled after stiff resistance from President Obama, and in what amounts to a tacit retreat, Aipac has stopped pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for the bill.
Officials at the group insist it never called for an immediate vote and say the legislation may yet pass if Mr. Obama’s effort to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran fails or if Iran reneges on its interim deal with the West. But for the moment, Mr. Obama has successfully made the case that passing new sanctions against Tehran now could scuttle the nuclear talks and put America on the road to another war.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a staunch supporter of Israel, is one of 16 Democrats who signed on to the bill, along with 43 of the Senate’s 45 Republicans, bringing it to within a few votes of a veto-proof majority. Now Mr. Blumenthal says the Senate should hold off on a vote to give Mr. Obama breathing room for diplomacy.
“There’s been an unquestionable, undeniable shift in the perception of national security,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “I’m sensitive to the feelings, the resistance, the aversion of the general public to any kind of American military engagement.”