The Cable

Musa Kusa gets his money back

The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Monday that it was lifting sanctions against Musa Kusa, the former Libyan foreign minister who defected from Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s regime and fled to London last week. Kusa was sanctioned as part of Executive Order 13566, which included the freezing of all assets belonging to senior Libyan ...

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The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Monday that it was lifting sanctions against Musa Kusa, the former Libyan foreign minister who defected from Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s regime and fled to London last week.

Kusa was sanctioned as part of Executive Order 13566, which included the freezing of all assets belonging to senior Libyan government officials. Since Kusa is no longer a senior Libyan government official, his name will be immediately taken off the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List and his funds in international banks will now be unfrozen, the Treasury Department said on Monday.

A White House spokesman quickly sent the Treasury Department’s release to reporters. David Cohen, acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, wrote on Monday that Kusa’s defection showed that sanctions can work, although he didn’t directly claim that Kusa made his decision based on the sanctions alone.

"One of the intended purposes of sanctions against senior officials in the Libyan government was to motivate individuals within the Qaddafi regime to make the right decision and disassociate themselves from Qaddafi and his government. And today’s announcement shows the ability of sanctions to advance our national security and foreign policy goals and objectives," wrote Cohen.

"Sanctions are a powerful tool that we have at our disposal to apply pressure against individuals to influence their decision-making calculus … Koussa’s defection and the subsequent lifting of sanctions against him should encourage others within the Libyan government to make similar decisions to abandon the Qadhafi regime."

Thirteen Libyan government officials remain on the SDN list and more sanctions are on the way, Cohen added.

Since the Libyan crisis began, Kusa has been a major target of the U.S. government due to both his proximity to Qaddafi as a trusted advisor, and his close connections to officials in foreign countries. He was the main interlocutor between the Qaddafi regime and the State Department for weeks at the beginning of the Libyan uprising and often spoke on the phone with Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

The defections are crucial to the White House’s strategy of ousting Qaddafi, as it seeks to scale down the U.S. military role in the Libyan intervention.

Last week, President Obama told ABC News, "I think what we’re seeing is that the circle around Qaddafi understands that the noose is tightening, that their days are probably numbered, and they are going to have to think through what their next steps are."

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