Syria TV: Arab League sanctions 'unprecedented'

League approves sanctions on officials' assets, travel ban; Qatar FM says Arabs must act to avoid foreign intervention.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
November 27, 2011 20:36
2 minute read.
pro-Assad demonstration, Syria

pro-Assad demonstration, Syria_311. (photo credit: Reuters )

 
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Syrian state television reacted to sanctions imposed on Syrian officials and the economic sector by the Arab League on Sunday, calling the move an "unprecedented measure," according to the Agence France-Presse.

According to the report, hundreds of Syrians gathered in a downtown Damascus square to protest the sanctions, which included freezing assets related to President Bashar Assad's government, a travel ban on top Syrian officials, halting dealings with Syria's central bank and stopping investments in Syria.

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The Arab League approved by a majority vote on Sunday sweeping economic sanctions on Syria over its crackdown on protesters and the Qatari foreign minister said that, if Arabs failed to contain the crisis, other foreign powers could intervene.

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani has previously said Arabs wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened in Libya, where UN Security Council resolution led to NATO air strikes.

"All the work that we are doing is to avoid this interference," he said, adding that if the international community did not see that Arabs were "serious" he could not guarantee that such action would be avoided.

The League approved by 19 of the League's 22 members the sanctions on the government in Damascus.



Arab ministers, spurred to action by worsening violence in Syria, were meeting in Cairo on Sunday to plan how to enforce sanctions on President Bashar Assad's government after it failed to implement a regional peace plan.

Ministers told the Arab League's economic and social council to draw up measures after Damascus ignored a deadline to let in Arab monitors and take other steps to end the government crackdown on an eight-month uprising against Assad's rule.

The measures could plunge Syria deeper into economic crisis, although the Arab ministers have said sanctions are not intended to hurt ordinary people.

"Today's meeting will focus on two issues. First approving the decisions taken by the economic council yesterday and finding a way to force them on the Syrian regime that does not let the regime find a way to skirt them," a senior League source said.

"The most important thing we are seeking is that sanctions make a difference and get implemented," he said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The League for decades avoided action against its 22 members but the pan-Arab body has been galvanized by pressure from Gulf Arabs already angry at Syria's alliance with their regional rival Iran and changes brought about by Arab uprisings.

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The scale of the bloodshed has also driven Arabs to act.

Hundreds of people, including civilians, soldiers and army deserters, have been killed in Syria this month, possibly the bloodiest since the unrest broke out in March inspired by uprisings which overthrew leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in total.

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