Arab League slaps more sanctions on Syria

The Arab League has imposed severe sanctions on the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that could lead to a serious economic crisis:


Arab states plan to cut commercial ties with President Bashar al-Assad's government and freeze its assets in response to violence in Syria, where activists said 42 civilians and soldiers died on Saturday.

The sanctions, which would plunge Syria deeper into economic crisis and regional isolation, were drawn up by an Arab League economic committee in Cairo on Saturday and need to be ratified by foreign ministers meeting on Sunday before coming into force.

They would also include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials and a halt to commercial flights to the country, according to an Arab League document seen by Reuters.

Dealings with Syria's central bank would be halted, it said, but basic essentials needed by the Syrian people would be exempted from sanctions.

The move follows Syria's failure to let monitors into the country, part of a broader Arab League initiative aimed at ending Assad's eight-month crackdown on protests in which the United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed.

The Syrian economy is already teetering on the brink of collapse and these sanctions might send it over the edge. Talk from Turkey envisions the possibility of some kind of "humanitarian corridor" where food and medical supplies can be delivered to Syrian civilians. The problem is that some kind of military force would have to enforce the corridor - a prospect that is several weeks away - if it ever happens.

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