EU, U.S. Draft Sanctions Against Syria

European nations and the U.S. have drafted a resolution which seeks an arms embargo and other sanctions on Assad.

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Elad Benari,

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European nations and the United States on Tuesday circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution which seeks an arms embargo and other sanctions aimed at stopping the Syrian government’s ongoing crackdown on protesters.

The draft was presented after last week it was reported that the U.S., Britain and other European allies were in the process of preparing it.

According to a report in The Associated Press, the draft resolution calls for an asset freeze against 23 key Syrian figures including President Bashar Assad, his younger brother Maher, who is believed to be in command of much of the current bloody crackdown, and his millionaire cousin, Rami Makhlouf, who controls the mobile phone network and other lucrative enterprises in Syria.

The resolution also calls for an asset freeze against two companies controlled by Makhlouf and would also impose a travel ban on 21 individuals including Makhlouf, but not Assad or his younger brother.

The supporters of the sanctions, however, faced immediate opposition from Russia, who has veto power in the Security Council.

According to AP, when asked whether it was the right time to slap sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, “No. We don’t think so.”

Last week at the Security Council meeting, the members heard briefings on Syria from UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, the world body’s humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos and UN political affairs chief Lynn Pascoe.

Pillay later told reporters that the Syrian government might have committed crimes against humanity, adding she had recommended that the council should consider referring Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The draft resolution presented Tuesday echoes the team’s conclusion, notes Pillay’s recommendation but stops short of ordering Syria to be referred to the court, saying only that “those responsible for violence should be held accountable.”

The resolution “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children.”

It demands that Syrian authorities immediately stop human rights violations and the use of force against civilians and “allow the full exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms for its entire population, including rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and lift restrictions on all forms of media.”

The proposed resolution “calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from fear and intimidation and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s population.”

On the arms embargo, the draft would require all countries to ban the sale or transfer of arms and military-related assistance to Syria and would also ban the Syrian government from exporting arms or providing military assistance to other states.

AP noted, however, that while the resolution is backed by Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the U.S., it is likely to face opposition not only from Russia but also from veto-wielding China, and possibly from council members Brazil, India and South Africa.