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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the crisis in Syria - EU bans Asma and relatives

Understanding International relations and politics is often too difficult ! The 36-year-old, Asma al-Assad, the first lady of Syria,  was born in the UK and spent much of her life in west London. British nationals, British passport holders do obviously have a right of entry to the United Kingdom.  Mrs Assad, who worked as an investment banker in the City of London before her marriage to President Bashar al-Assad in 2000, has generally played a low-key role in the regime.

Syria is in news for various reasons !  -   The UN says at least 8,000 people have died since the uprising against Mr Assad's regime began in March 2011.  The president and his allies say terrorist and armed gangs are behind the violence, and say hundreds of security personnel have been killed fighting them.  There are reports that Syria told international envoy Kofi Annan that its military will withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas by 10 April, in what could be a first step toward ending the bloody yearlong conflict.  The announcement came as Syrian troops hunted down activists and destroyed their homes in the country’s rebellious areas, and the United States remained skeptical of Damascus’ latest statements, pointing to previous broken promises. Britain, France, Germany and a number of other countries also questioned whether Syrian President Bashar Assad would keep his word, the diplomats said.  Kofi Annan told the council if Syria meets the 10 April deadline, and this can be verified, then the opposition would have 48 hours to wind down its military activities so there would be a complete cessation of hostilities, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because his briefing was closed.

Syria is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. US lists Syria as a "state sponsor of terrorism", triggering automatic bans on most transactions with Syria, save exports of humanitarian aid; travel bans and asset freezes on President Assad and other senior figures; ban on imports of Syrian oil.  Russia and China have vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions on Syria for fear that intervention could lead to regime change, as happened in Libya last year.  Mr Assad has promised political reform, but observers and his opponents have dismissed his plans as window-dressing.

In the Friends of Syria conference, the United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday [1st Apr 12]  to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military.  Turkish riot police sprayed tear gas at supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they demonstrated outside the conference venue.

Back at home, in Syria, the authorities dismissed the gathering, declaring it as a meet of enemies of Syria.  The newspaper, the mouthpiece of President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party, called the conference “another failure,.  But the Istanbul gathering, with Russia and China blocking United Nations measures that could open the way for military action, the countries lined up against the government of President Assad sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance and blur the line between so-called lethal and nonlethal support.  There remains no agreement on arming the rebels, as countries like Saudi Arabia and some members of Congress have called for, largely because of the uncertainty regarding who exactly would receive the arms.  Still, the offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army — with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said — is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.

 “The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says,” Mrs. Clinton said in a statement to officials who sat around an enormous rectangular table the size of a basketball court. “And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.”

More opposition was to unravel as EU foreign ministers imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other family members.  Asma al-Assad is among 12 people added to the sanctions list, which already includes her husband.  The four women closest to President Assad were added to the European Union's sanctions list at a meeting of Europe's foreign ministers today. Adding up of the  Syrian leader's wife, mother, sister and sister-in-law to the travel ban and asset freeze blacklist as the EU steps pressure on Assad's inner circle and family.  However, this ban cannot stop her from travelling to the UK, British officials say.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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