Arab Countries Preparing to Sanction Assad

November 26, 2011  

Arab states plan to cut commercial ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and freeze its assets in response to violence in the country, Reuters reported on Saturday.

The sanctions were drawn up by an Arab League economic committee in Cairo on Saturday and need to be ratified by foreign ministers meeting on Sunday before coming into force.

The sanctions will include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials and a halt to commercial flights to the country, according to an Arab League document obtained by Reuters.

Dealings with Syria’s central bank will be halted, but basic essentials needed by the Syrian people would be exempted from sanctions, according to the document.

The sanctions come after a Friday ultimatum for Syria to agree to let Arab League observers into its territory had passed with Syria only sending a letter to the League, seeking more details about the proposed observer mission and its legal status.

Assad’s troops, meanwhile, continued to kill citizens on Friday. Local activists said that at least 11 people were killed by security forces. The United Nations has said 3,500 people have been killed in the crackdown so far.

The killing also continued on Saturday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that 27 civilians died, most of them shot by security forces in the cities of Homs and Qusayr.

The group added that army deserters killed 12 soldiers in the northern province of Idlib when they attacked a convoy heading for the town of Maarat al-Numan.

At the same time, state news agency SANA reported that funerals of 22 security force members were being held on Saturday, including six pilots killed in an attack on an air force base between Homs and Palmyra two days earlier. The army blamed the attack on an “armed terrorist group.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that some Arab nations have voiced their reservations over sanctioning Syria.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said his country has “interests” in not sanctioning its neighbor.  

“There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis living in Syria and there is trade,” Zebari was quoted as having told reporters in Najaf. “Lebanon also has the same idea and Jordan too has shown its objection.”

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