New sanctions on table at Friends of Syria meeting
By VICTORIA JONES
Talk Radio News Service
WASHINGTON – The U.S. is set to call for tough UN sanctions against President Assad and his inner circle at a “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris today. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is attending.
Despite the estimated killing of more than 16,500 people in the 16 month uprising, key Syria allies Russia and China – both with UN veto rights – will not attend.
The U.S. and France will lead the call for sanctions, which the U.S. says should include Chapter 7 economic sanctions
Chapter 7 allows for sanctions ranging from economic measures to an arms embargo and, if necessary, military forces. It was last used against Libya in 2011. It could be highly controversial at the Security Council, given Russia and China’s veto powers.
China and Russia insist Syrians should decide their own fate and do not rule out Assad remaining in power in some form. The West insists Assad should not be part of any new unity government.
“We demand the Syrian file be sent to the Security Council with a Chapter 7 resolution to force the regime to implement the Annan plan,” said opposition Syrian National Council European coordinator Monzer Makhous.
Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a commander in Syria’s elite Republican Guards, who was a member of the Damascus aristocracy and a close friend and contemporary of Assad, was reported on Thursday to have fled the country and defected. If confirmed, he would be the first from within the gilded inner circle and the kind of embarrassing departure long anticipated to indicate that the government’s cohesion was cracking. Tlass is a Sunni (Assad is an Alawite) who apparently has been largely sidelined for the past year.
Some opposition figures were not particularly charitable, suggesting he fled to save the family’s substantial fortune as the government collapses. He was described by a former very senior regime member as a “spoiled brat, a playboy, a womanizer” who nevertheless could be very valuable to the West if he chose to talk about regime secrets, which he would know.
Wikileaks said Thursday it would begin releasing a cache of more than 2.4 million emails between Syrian politicians, government officials and companies dating from 2006 until March of this year.
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