Sanctions on Syria

Despite the new pledge for reforms and amnesty announced by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, the situation in Syria is deteriorating rapidly.

In the midst of all the political upheavals at home, comes additional pressure from outside, in the shape of an extension in sanctions. The European Union, in light of the continued use of brute force against civilians by the Syrian government recently announced an extension of the sanctions against some firms and persons who are believed to be involved in protests suppression. A number of lists proposing sanctions against Syrian government affiliates and companies have been prepared by EU states and may obtain approval in absence of any objections in the near future.

While this may be the least of Assad’s worries at present, this could act as a catalyst and may also be the reason for the start of dissent in his inner circle. The whole purpose of these sanctions is to implement measures demonstrative of international disapproval of the current going on’s and to put much-needed pressure on a regime that has chosen the path of suppression and force to quieten any legitimate demands.

The problem is that even Assad’s well-meaning promises to reform the administration and reconstitute the political mechanism are no longer acceptable. First is the problem of credibility. The people no longer trust the government, which is essential for any leader’s stay in power. Second, by adopting contradictory policies, the government has only earned a bad name. On the one hand the people are offered amnesty with several hundred prisoners being released and on the other hand larger numbers are detained and subjected to brutalities and torture.

To date at least 1,300 people have been killed and thousands detained and displaced. Even as tens of thousands seek refuge across the border in Turkey, the United Nations has appealed to Syria to allow missions access to determine facts and extend humanitarian help.

Though Syria recently agreed to give Red Cross wider access to civilians it is unlikely to allow fact finding missions, given the closed nature of the regime and its paranoia about leakage of information to the outside world.

Each passing day has seen the death toll mount amid rising instability. It is time the Syrian government immediately starts its National Dialogue initiative in order to prevent the situation from exacerbating.

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