Syria oil embargo, other sanctions prepared by EU

First time EU will target Syrian industry; analysts say the sanctions may have only a limited impact on Assad's access to funds.

By REUTERS
September 2, 2011 14:07
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Bibi netanyahu. (photo credit: JPost Staff)

 
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SOPOT, Poland - The European Union is expected to agree to an embargo on Syrian oil exports on Friday and will expand other sanctions as it tries to intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad and his government.

The United States, EU and other Western powers want Assad to end a violent five-month-old crackdown against pro-democracy protesters and give up power, but he shows no sign of quitting up. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed, the United Nations says.

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The EU has already banned Europeans from doing business with dozens of Syrian officials, government institutions and military-linked firms tied to the violence, but the measures seem to have had little influence on Assad's policy.

Friday's steps are the first time the EU will target Syrian industry but analysts say the sanctions, which do not go as far as the investment ban imposed by the United States last month, may have only a limited impact on Assad's access to funds.

"President Assad is carrying out massacres in his own country," Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in the Polish resort of Sopot, where EU foreign ministers are holding informal policy discussions on Friday and Saturday.

"The whole international community is urging him to relinquish power."

If approved, the ban on Syrian crude oil exports to the EU will go into effect in the next few days, although existing contracts will be fulfilled until Nov. 15.

Alongside the embargo, EU governments are also expected to prohibit Europeans from doing business with several Syrian companies, including a bank, and add more people to a list of officials targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans.



More sanctions could be imposed in the coming weeks, EU diplomats said.

"We wanted to have something done quickly but work continues on further measures," one diplomat said.

Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East

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