Arab League Draft Syria Sanctions: Cutting Trade Ties, Freeze on Assets

Document leaked ahead of Sunday resolution shows Arab states mull ending all commercial flights to Syria, halt dealing with Syrian central bank.

Arab states plan to cut commercial ties with Syria's government and freeze its assets as they step up pressure to end months of political violence in the country, a draft document to be discussed by Arab ministers on Sunday showed.

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

Arab League - AP - 16.11.11

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

The document, drawn up by the Arab League's Social and Economic Committee at a preparatory meeting in Cairo in Saturday, would need to be ratified by ministers before coming into force.

Earlier Saturday, Syria buried 22 members of the armed forces, including six elite pilots, as the government reinforced its message that the 8-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad is the work of terrorists and foreign agents, not patriotic Syrians seeking reform.

Syria is facing mounting international pressure to end the bloody crackdown on the uprising against Assad's rule that the UN says has killed more than 3,500 people. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Assad and his regime, including a ban on the import of Syrian oil.

"U.S. and European sanctions are one thing, but coming from the Arab brothers and sisters, it is psychologically and realistically much more damaging," said Nikolaos van Dam, a former diplomat and Middle East scholar.

Still, there is widely held skepticism the Arab sanctions would succeed in pressuring the Syrian regime into putting an end to the violence that has claimed the lives of dozens of Syrians, week after week. Many fear the violence is pushing the country toward civil war.