Last Updated: Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:55 am (KSA) 08:55 am (GMT)

Western powers propose tougher UN sanctions on Syria’s Assad, family

Overview of the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Syria in Geneva. (Photo by REUTERS)
Overview of the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Syria in Geneva. (Photo by REUTERS)

A European and US draft resolution obtained by Al Arabiya pressed Wednesday for tougher UN sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and other top regime leaderships for their deadly crackdown on opposition protests.

Western delegations hope to put the draft resolution to a vote in the 15-nation Security Council as soon as possible. The sanctions are the Western nations' response to Damascus' five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, which the United Nations says has left 2,200 civilians dead.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe (L) speaks with China's counsellor Xia Jingge before the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council .
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe (L) speaks with China's counsellor Xia Jingge before the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council .

The draft resolution obtained “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children, and expresses profound regret at the deaths of thousands of people including children.”

The resolution “demands an immediate end to the violence” and “recalls that those responsible for violence should be held accountable.”

Assad leads a list of 23 individuals and four entities named in the draft document who would be subject to an asset freeze. The president is not on the 22-name list for a proposed travel ban however.

Others targeted for sanctions include Assad's brother Maher, commander of the army's 4th armored division, which is said to have played a key role in suppressing protests, Vice President Farouq al-Shara, and Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf, a tycoon who controls Syria's biggest cellphone firm Syriatel.

Among the other individuals on the sanctions list are the defense minister and several senior intelligence officials.

The resolution would impose sanctions on Syria's General Intelligence Directorate and three companies that it says provide funding for the government. One of the firms, the Military Housing Establishment, is partly controlled by the Syrian defense ministry, the resolution says

Brazil, India and South Africa could also raise strong reservations, diplomats predicted.

But Russia, which has veto-power, said it does not think sanctioning Damascus is the right approach at the moment.

China said that it believed there should be more dialogue.

"The parties involved should seek to peacefully and properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultations," said foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in Beijing. "The future of Syria should be decided by Syria itself."

According to the UN, more than 2,200 civilians have been killed since protests against Assad started in mid-March.

Security Council resolutions need nine backers and no veto to be passed. The United States, France and Britain are also permanent members with veto power.

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