Arab states draft sanctions for Syria

Monday 28 November 2011 12.08
Syrian protests experience violent reactions from security forces
Syrian protests experience violent reactions from security forces

Arab countries have vowed that they will cut commercial ties with Syria and freeze its assets to pressurise the Syrian government to end political violence in the country.

The sanctions would also include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials and a halt to commercial flights to the country.

Dealings by Arab states with Syria's central bank would be halted, according to a draft document, but basic commodities needed by the Syrian people would be exempted from the list of sanctions.

A committee will be formed tomorrow to decide the exemptions.

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

Damascus missed yesterday's deadline to agree an Arab League proposal to send monitors to Syria, where the United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab League turned against Assad this month, suspending Syria's membership of the regional body in a surprise move that broke with months of low-key diplomacy.

The draft document said Arab states would freeze the financing of projects on Syrian territory and Arab central banks would monitor bank transfers and letters of credit to make sure they comply with the sanctions. Remittances sent home by Syrians working abroad would not be blocked.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, said "it is important that the international community move to resolve this problem and deliver a powerful message to the Syrian government."

He said the sanctions must not affect the daily life of Syria's people or threaten their most basic needs such as access to water.

"We know that the Arab League during its meetings today and tomorrow will take strong decisions to stop the violence in Syria," said Mr Babacan.