Turkey unveils economic sanctions on Syrian administration
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu unveiled a series of sanctions against the Syrian regime due to its military crackdown on an eight-month uprising on Wednesday morning, which the foreign minister said are measures against the Syrian administration and will not harm the Syrian people Today`s Zaman reported
Davutoglu said at a news conference that Turkey, once a close friend of Damascus, would block the delivery of all weapons and military equipment to Damascus as part of measures aimed at persuading Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to end a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. Davutoglu also said a cooperation agreement with Syria was being suspended until there was a new government in place.
"Until a legitimate government which is at peace with its people is in charge in Syria, the mechanism of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council has been suspended," Davutoglu said, adding Assad's government had come "to the end of the road."
Among other measures Davutoglu announced were freezing Syrian government assets in Turkey, imposing a travel ban on top Syrian government officials and freezing relations with the Central Bank of Syria. Davutoğlu also said the Syrian regime has reached its end by ignoring calls from the international community to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters.
"Every bullet fired, every bombed mosque has eliminated the legitimacy of the Syrian leadership and has widened the gap between us," Davutoglu said. "Syria has squandered the last chance that it was given."
Davutoglu added that Syria "has entered a vicious circle of violence," despite warnings from Turkey. "Syria must immediately cease using force against the people and [military] forces must immediately withdraw from cities," Davutoglu said.
Turkey, once a close ally of the Syrian president, has gradually toughened its criticism of the Syrian regime for its brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests. Turkish leaders have on many occasions called on Assad to end the crackdown and step down.
Turkey's move follows in the wake of sanctions announced by the Arab League. In an unprecedented move against a fellow Arab state, the 22-member Arab League approved sanctions Sunday to pressure the regime to end its suppression of an eight-month-old revolt.
The sanctions by Syria's Arab neighbors include cutting off transactions with the Syria's central bank, and are expected to squeeze an ailing economy that already is under sanction by the US and the European Union.
Syria is facing mounting international pressure to end its violent suppression of protests against Assad, which the UN says has killed more than 3,500 people since March. The EU and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Assad and his regime, including a ban on the import of Syrian oil.