28 Nov 2011

Arab League impses sanctions on Syria

5:44 pm on 28 November 2011

After months of unrest, the Arab League has approved sanctions against Syria, including an asset freeze and an embargo on investments.

The league suspended Syria earlier in November in a move denounced by Damascus as meddling in its affairs, the BBC reports.

League foreign ministers adopted the unprecedented sanctions at a meeting in Cairo on Sunday by a vote of 19-3.

Iraq and Lebanon voted against the sanctions. Before the vote, Iraq suggested that an economic blockade would not work in practice.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem accused the league of seeking to "internationalise" the conflict.

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani gave details of the sanctions to a news conference in Cairo. They include:

    Cutting off transactions with the Syrian central bank

  • Halting funding by Arab governments for projects in Syria
  • A travel ban on senior Syrian officials
  • A freeze on assets related to President Bashar al-Assad's government

The Arab League threatened Syria with sanctions earlier in November after President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly failed to implement steps to end the violence, including allowing international observers to enter Syria.

Deadlines missed

The Arab League was due to discuss new sanctions on the Syrian government on Saturday after Damascus ignored another deadline on Friday to accept an Arab observer mission.

The league wants to send 500 observers to monitor the situation, but Damascus has reportedly agreed to let in only 40.

An earlier deadline for Syria to end a crackdown on opposition protestors passed last Saturday night.