Research details

Should Maher Al-Imam Have Been Delisted from EU Sanctions?
Date 2024-06-27
Should Maher Al-Imam Have Been Delisted from EU Sanctions?






In 2020, the EU sanctioned Maher (Mahir) Burhan Eddine al-Imam for benefiting from and financing the Syrian regime. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CURIA) dismissed his appeal on 22 September 2021 and ordered him to pay the court cost. However, the EU decided to delist him last month without public justification.

Although Maher has toned down his public support for the regime and pulled out of some formal business dealings, he continues to control key companies with links to the regime through his business affiliate and friend, Muhammad Ammar Dalloul. On 20 April 2022, Maher transferred his shares from Waves Internet Service in what appeared on paper to be the severing of his last connection to the regime-backed Telsa Group. However, he merely transferred the shares to Dalloul, with whom he remains in close contact. Maher’s public engagements continue to suggest that he is in charge of Waves Internet.

The EU should not have delisted Maher al-Imam. Instead, Muhammad Dalloul should have been sanctioned due to ample evidence of his business connections to both Maher and Maher’s wife, Khadija Bekdash, and of his support to and benefit from the Assad regime. The delisting of Maher al-Imam is another failure of Western governments to adequately understand the intricate web of business-regime networks in Syria.

Western governments, and the EU, should overhaul the way they arrive at their listing and delisting decisions to improve the efficacy of their unilateral sanctions, especially in light of their negative unintended impacts on innocent civilians.

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