EU imposes arms embargo on Syria

Bashar al-Assad (AFP Photo / HO / Sana)
The pressure on Libya began weeks ago with a set of sanctions. Now the European Union is turning the same tactics on Syria, declaring an arms embargo and a travel ban for 13 top Syrian officials.

­Barah Mikail, a Middle East expert at the Madrid-based think tank Fride, believes that the situation in Syria is very different from the Libyan one.

“It is not only because Syria is in a very sensitive environment, as there is, of course, the prevailing difficult situation – the official war situation with Israel,” he told RT. “You also have all these connections that Syria has with Iran, with the Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as with the Palestinian Hamas, which makes it very dangerous for the so-called international community to make a military intervention in Syria, with no alternative to President Bashar Assad’s regime.”

­Editor Rob Lyons says that the reason the sanctions were only imposed on some officials, but not on Bashar al-Assad himself, is that some EU states believe there is still the possibility of doing business with the Syrian president.

“He is Western educated and has a Western-educated wife as well, and perhaps he might be a force of moderation in the country,” he said.

Lyons played down the possibility that the sanctions would have any effect on the situation in Syria.

“These particular set of sanctions seem to be pretty minor and are unlikely to have much influence,” he said. “Sanctions in general seem to have very little impact on big regimes; they hurt ordinary people in these countries far more.”

­Looking back over past examples of sanctions strategically working, Sukant Chandan, spokesman for British Civilians for Peace in Libya, recalled US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright being asked if imposing sanctions in Iraq was really worth the pain and suffering caused to the Iraqi people. Albright, he recalled, said it was worth it.

But in the end, said Chandan, Iraq turned out to be “a death blow to Western hegemony. So it is really unwise for the West to go down this route of sanctions and aggression against Syria.

The West would like the Syrian regime, like the Libyan regime, like Hezbollah or the Palestinian resistance, to have disappeared yesterday,” continued Chandan. “Achieving that is a whole different kettle of fish. The unipolar world has finished, we are entering a multipolar world and the West is panicking about that. They cannot allow breakaway nations and the global south to just rise up and go without a fight.

But Chandan does not believe the West will have much success in pressing Syria. The West’s attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan returned no solid result.

They got bogged down morally, economically, politically and diplomatically. They were completely out-maneuvered by the global south and uprisings in the global south,” concluded Chandan.