Western powers target Assad with UN sanction

August 24, 2011 5:09 am

, UNITED NATIONS, Aug 24 – European nations and the United States pressed Wednesday for UN sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his entourage for their deadly crackdown on opposition protests.

A draft resolution circulated to the 15 nation Security Council on Tuesday by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal also calls for a total arms embargo against the country.

Assad leads a list of 23 individuals and four entities named in the draft document who would be subject to an asset freeze. The president is not on the 22-name list for a proposed travel ban however.

While western diplomats said they hope to see a vote soon on the resolution, it will face opposition from Russia and China, which have a veto of any resolution as permanent members of the council.

Brazil, India and South Africa could also raise strong reservations, diplomats predicted.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting that it was not the right time to impose sanctions.

China said that it believed there should be more dialogue.

“The parties involved should seek to peacefully and properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultations,” said foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in Beijing. “The future of Syria should be decided by Syria itself.”

The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, says the international action would target all those “responsible for or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, violent repression against the civilian population in Syria.”

According to the UN, more than 2,200 civilians have been killed since protests against Assad started in mid-March.

The president’s brother, Maher al-Assad, is also on the proposed blacklist. He is commander of the army’s 4th armored division, which is accused of playing a central role in suppressing protests, and a cousin Rami Makhlouf, who controls Syria’s biggest cellphone firm Syriatel.

Vice President Farouq al-Shara, Defense Minister Dawud Rajiha and the heads of Syria’s government and military intelligence are also on the list.

Sanctions are sought against Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate, and three firms, the Military Housing Establishment (Milihouse), which is partly controlled by the defense ministry, and Bena Properties and Al Mashreq investment, which are both controlled by Makhlouf.

All the companies are said to provide funding to Assad’s government.

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.”

It “demands” an immediate end to the violence.

There is no military threat in the resolution. “The Syrian people have been very clear they don’t want any foreign military intervention,” Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations said in an interview with CNN.

“I think Assad needs to know that he is on a dangerous and immoral course that will have significant consequences for his leadership,” she added.

The Security Council has so far only condemned the violence in Syria in a statement agreed on August 3, following months of opposition from China, Russia and their council allies. That also demanded an end to the violence.

Russia and China have opposed any threat of action against Syria, fearing it would pave the way for another Western military intervention like the one in Libya.

China and Russia led opposition to a UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on Monday which called for a probe into violations, saying it was one-sided and politicized. India was amongst nine countries which abstained.

Security Council resolutions need nine backers and no veto to be passed. The United States, France and Britain are also permanent members with veto power.


Latest Articles

Most Viewed