Turkey Hits Syria with Sanctions
Turkey has struck Syria with a list of economic sanctions designed to break the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The move comes in cooperation with the European Union, the Arab League, the United States and Canada. Each has levied its own set of sanctions against the Assad government to punish the regime for its refusal to end its brutality against its own citizens and its unwillingness to fulfill the terms of an related agreement signed with the Arab League. The Arab League subsequently voted to suspend Syria's membership.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced Wednesday that Ankara would suspend its financial dealings with Damascus, and freeze all Syrian government assets. The list of sanctions includes a ban of delivery of all weapons and military equipment to Syria.
"Until a legitimate government which is at peace with its people is in charge in Syria, the mechanism of the High Level of Strategic Cooperation has been suspended," Davutoglu told a news briefing in Ankara.
He added that the Assad regime had "come to the end of the road."
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak also warned earlier this month that Syria's president seems headed on a path similar to that of former Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, who earlier this year also refused to halt government violence against protesters. The demonstrations eventually evolved into a rebellion that became a civil war, with the rebels backed by NATO in their fight to topple Qaddafi from power. The dictator was captured and killed on October 20, outside his hometown of Sirte.
The United Nations has estimated that close to 4,000 people have been killed in the Assad-backed violence that has raged through Syria and aimed primarily at civilian anti-government protesters since the beginning of the "Arab Spring" inspired uprising that began in March.
Human rights organizations and activists place the death toll far higher, with figures of close to 5,000 victims. Thousands of others have been wounded, have been arrested and tortured. Sometimes they have later "disappeared."
Earlier this week, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) also voted to charge Assad with crimes against humanity, ruling that he is guilty of the murder, torture and other acts committed against Syrian citizens by his troops.