Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Momentum Seen For Un Sanctions Against Syria

by Rick Moran

Both the US and EU have their own set of sanctions already in place against Assad and his inner circle: Freezes on bank accounts, travel restrictions and the like.

Now the UN appears ready to put its weight behind sanctions, including perhaps a total arms embargo against the regime.


Syrian security forces killed at least 15 anti-government protesters since yesterday as the U.S. and its European allies sought to freeze President Bashar al- Assad's assets and impose an arms embargo on the country.

At least three protesters were shot dead today in the central city of Homs, while yesterday's deaths took place across the Hama governorate, Homs and the northern province of Idlib, Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said by phone.

The U.S., Britain and France yesterday circulated a draft resolution to United Nations Security Council members that would freeze the foreign assets of Assad, his brother Maher and 21 other senior government officials. The president was excluded from the list of 22 officials whose travel from Syria would be barred. Maher Assad commands a Syrian army division.

Assad has used tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and helicopters to crush the most serious threat to his family's 40- year rule. The uprisings began in mid-March after revolts ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and sparked conflict in Libya.

There were nationwide protests late yesterday in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta, Kisweh and Douma and in the town of Zabadani, near the border with Lebanon, Merhi said today.

The key, as always, is Russia. Putin never met a thug he didn't like and his recalcitrance in imposing sanctions on Syria has as much to do with the profitable business arrangement Russia has with Syria as anything else. The Russians keep a steady supply of arms moving into Syria and they seem reluctant to cut that business off at this point.

But the sensibilities of the UN have been outraged by Assad's brutality so perhaps Russia might believe its time to cut their losses and join the bandwagon by voting for sanctions.

Action may be taken in the Security Council by week's end.

Rick Moran


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