Earlier this week, we blogged about the efforts of the international community to increase pressure on the Syrian government. This pressure came as the Syrian government failed to implement an agreement that had been brokered by the Arab League and continued its campaign of violence against civilians.
Just yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that the death toll in Syria has reached at least 4,000. As violence continues in Syria, some members of the international community have announced additional measures to pressure the regime.
Pressure on Syria Mounts Further
On Wednesday, Turkey announced tough new sanctions that will “freeze the Syrian government’s financial assets, impose a travel ban on senior Syrian officials and cut off transactions with the country’s central bank.” The United States released a statement welcoming pressure from Turkey. See the video below for more information on the Turkish sanctions.
The Arab League is working to implement the measures it recently adopted, like a ban on travel for Syrian government officials, and is considering additional steps. Earlier this week, the Arab League released a list of 17 Syrians who would be banned from traveling to Arab states. Included on the list are Assad’s brother, cabinet ministers and the country’s richest businessman. As the Voice of America reported, “officials say the list and other recommendations will be presented to Arab League members meeting in Doha on Sunday.”
Today, the European Union (EU) implemented a series of additional sanctions on Syria. 11 entities and 12 individuals were added to the EU blacklist. Among the entities targeted are state-owned Syrian oil companies: General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) and Syria Trading Oil (Sytrol), as well as a GPC joint venture, Al Furat Petroleum Company. As a result of the sanctions, European oil giant Royal Dutch Shell announced that it will be pulling out of the country.
The EU has also taken action to ban the export of surveillance technology to Syria. This move comes following reports “that an Italian company, Area SpA, was building a surveillance system that would have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime the power to intercept, scan and catalog virtually every e-mail that flows through the country.” Earlier this week, Area SpA announced that it would be exiting the project.
Syria Gets Support from Russia, Others
Russia is of particular concern as members of the international community seek action at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As a permanent member with the power to veto UNSC resolutions, Russia can single-handedly undermine efforts to impose sanctions and adopt an arms embargo. Russia will also hold the presidency of the UNSC for the month of December making it even more difficult to get Syria on the agenda.
Report Documenting Rights Abuses Spurs Action at the Human Rights Council
A disturbing United Nations report released earlier this week expressed grave concern that crimes against humanity have been committed by the Syrian government. The report documented patterns of “summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” It was also found that at least 256 children have been killed by government forces.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to meet today for an emergency session on Syria. It is hoped that the meeting will put additional pressure on Russia and the UNSC.