Conflict & Justice

Syria: EU to impose new sanctions, Jordan calls on Assad to resign


A boy wearing a headband reading 'Free Syria' looks on during a 'Jasmin march for the Syrian people's freedom' that gathered about 300 activists, including Syrians opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime living in Switzerland, on Sept. 17, 2011 in Geneva.


Fabrice Coffrini

Amid growing political unrest and government crackdowns on protesters under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, EU foreign ministers decided to impose new sanctions on 18 people Monday, the Associated Press reported.

The 27 EU foreign ministers that made the decision targeted a number of military officials and deputy ministers, saying they were “responsible or associated with the repression and supporting or benefiting from the regime." 

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The names of those on the list were published Tuesday and include Major General Jumah Al-Ahmad, the Commander of Syria's Special Forces, and Chief of Syria's General Staff Lt General Jasim al-Furayj, the Wall Street Journal reported:

"Also targeted were Major General Zuhair Hamad, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Directorates, and Deputy Minister for the Interior Saqr Khayr Bek. The EU also targeted Bassam Sabbagh, the head of Sabbagh & Associates law firm who, it said, provides funding for the regime and it added Abdullah Berri to the list--the head of the Berri family pro-government militia that was involved in the crackdown on civilians in Aleppo, the EU said."

The EU has already enforced sanctions on 56 Syrians and 19 organizations since the Syrian president started implementing violent crackdowns against the eight-month government uprising. The EU warned the regime it would extend more sanctions last month if the violence continued.

The UN estimated that the government has killed at least 3,500 protesters since mid-March.

"The EU again condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing brutal repression and widespread human rights violation,” the foreign ministers said in a statement released Monday.

The EU said it would continue to seek out the UN to continue the international pressure against al-Assad, Reuters reported.

The Syrian government said Monday it was confident Russia and China will deter the West’s attempt of reprimand at the UN. Russia and China last month vetoed a Western-sponsored resolution condemning Damascus.

The regime also said there will be no chances for Western military intervention, according to the Reuters report.

"The Libya scenario will not be repeated," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said.

Despite Syria’s reluctance against Western intervention, its Arab peers have taken actions against the regime. The majority of the Arab League voted Saturday to suspend Syria’s membership in light of the government crackdowns.

Jordan’s king Abdullah spoke to BBC Monday, urging al-Assad to step down. Abdullah is the first Arab ruler to issue the Syrian president’s resignation since the eight-month uprising began.

"If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life," Abdullah told the BBC. Jordan has been increasingly critical of the regime’s actions against anti-government protesters.