Saturday, November 26, 2011

Arab League Plans to Freeze Syria Economic Ties

by Reuters

Arab states plan to cut commercial ties with Syria's government and freeze its assets as they step up pressure to end months of political violence in the country, a draft document to be discussed by Arab ministers on Sunday showed.

The sanctions would also include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials and a halt to commercial flights to the country, according to the Arab League document seen by Reuters on Saturday.

Dealings with Syria's central bank would be halted, it said, but basic commodities needed by the Syrian people would be exempted from the list of sanctions.

Syria's economy is already reeling from months of unrest, aggravated by US and European sanctions on oil exports and several state businesses.

The document, drawn up by the Arab League's Social and Economic Committee at a preparatory meeting in Cairo in Saturday, would need to be ratified by ministers before coming into force.

The document was drafted after Damascus missed a Friday deadline to sign an agreement under which the Arab League planned to send observers to Syria, where the United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed since the start of the uprising in March.

Despite Syria's pledge this month to withdraw its army from urban areas and let in the monitors, the violence has continued, prompting reprisals from the Arab League, stinging rebukes from Turkey and French proposals for humanitarian intervention.

Damascus says regional powers have helped incite the violence, which it blames on armed groups targeting civilians and its security forces.



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