Syria Calls the Arab League’s Sanctions ‘Economic War’

The country’s foreign minister hinted at retaliation for the steps taken to punish Syria over its repression of the political uprising there.

Comments: 35

  1. It appears to me that both Persia and Turkey are looking to rebuild their lost empires on Arab factionalism.

  2. Yeah, its an economic war.

    What do you expect?

    You have barely enough oil for domestic use, no great mineral wealth or other assets to make it worth invading your country so you're getting "War Lite".

    Shut up and be thankful...

  3. Tyrants just want to hold on to power no matter what the consequences. Assad might be wise to think about Ghadaffi's fate.

    It is indeed heartening to see the unity of the Arab League in sidelining Assad. Hope they do even more against Ahmadinejad.

  4. After many a moon of inaction, it is wonderful to see the Arab League act! The league should be proud of its
    decision. It is beginning of a new era for the League. What is disturbing is after all the effort, all the lost lives of Iraqis and Americans in Iraq, the Maliki administration decides to abstain! What a disgrace.

  5. You'd think it was Europe or something. Progress on human rights in the Middle East is always a serpentine thing, but it is good to see the Arab League taking stands re shooting civilians. The Qaddafi regime would not have fallen without the Arab League's statements, and now the Syrian regime is similarly threatened. Next time there are peaceful protests in Qatar or Saudi Arabia it will be harder to suppress them with total brutality. You have to give the Arab League dictators credit -- they have to know this could boomerang on them at home and yet they are still going ahead with very blunt statements. Turkey's leadership also appears to be very constructive. U.S. absence (at least publicly) from all this is also beneficial -- leadership on human rights has to come (publicly) from Arabs and Muslims.

  6. Way to go Walid. "we will defend the interests of our people” ....as we slaughter them in the streets. Bashir has killed more Syrians than the Israelis did in the Six Day War (which you started). So who is the real enemy?

  7. Fixed: It's been documented for years that the Neocons planned regime change in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria before 9/11. Obama has improved upon these plans by delivering bombs with a "kindler, gentler" face. Glenn Greenwald provides documentation that the various Middle Eastern and North African war were planned before 9/11: 'General Wesley Clark...said the aim of the plot to "destroy the governments in...Iraq...Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran” was this: “They wanted to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, remake it under our control.” He then spoke of a conversation he had ten years earlier with Paul Wolfowitz in 1991, in which the then-number-3-Pentagon-official, after criticizing Bush 41 for not toppling Saddam, told Clark: “One thing we learned from the Persian Gulf War 1 is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: “the new purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments. It’s not to deter conflicts.” With efforts are now underway aimed at Syria and Iran, with proxy fighting in Somalia, with military deployment to South Sudan, and the use of drones in six different Muslim countries, it remains whether the neocon dream is dead or being actively pursued with more multilateral invasions.' There’s now no difference in goals within the foreign policy establishment. They just disagree on the best methods to achieve them. They agree the US has to continue defending the mideast from outside interference, and the Democrats just think that best path is four overt wars and three covert actions, while the neocons want to jump straight to seven wars. If anyone thinks that the uprisings in the Middle East were spontaneous, they need their head examined.

  8. It is hard for me to take this article seriously, or to understand why it is in the New York Times. The covert and overt actions of the US and Israel, aided by factions in the Arab League, and especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to unseat al-Assad are to weaken the line of a newly empowered Iran in establishing a "southern link" to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. Any "humanitarian concens" expressed by these parties are entirely propagandist. Surely, you know this, Mr MacFarquhar!

  9. Well we gave Assad a fellow traveler to support his crimes- our supposed Democratic leader in Iraq. Would Sadaam Hussein have done the same?

  10. Syria has lost all power after the 1990 construction of the Ataturk dam just north of the Turkey/Syria border cutting of a large portion of the Eufrat River flowing into Syria at the drop of a head. Water in the Middle East is life and Syria is dying.

  11. to see the arab league, made up of the region's most repressive dictatorships condemn syria is preposterous. the syrian baathists are the only political entity in the middle east that has incorported more liberal western values while governing a diverse population of varied cultures in a least a semi-progressive manner. syria has thus been a threat to the reactive ultra conservative sunni oligarchies who now find common cause with the west in repressing their enslaved shia minorities and resisting sasanian intrusion.

  12. War is needed to carry out the wishes of the people and in fact a civil war has begun already. We support the liberation of homeland Syria and all provinces.
    ROYAL KINGDOM OF GREATER SYRIA, Government-in-exile

  13. It's good to see most Arab nations Finally admit that murdering thousands might be a bad thing, but sanctions have never, ever, ever, never, ever worked against dictators.

    Did I say never?

    The only cure for a murdering dictator is a noose around his neck.

  14. These effect of these sanctions will be minimized because the most important Arab states - those bordering on Syria - have announced that they will ignore them.
    That's right. The country that America "saved", Iraq (now Iranian-dominated), and of course Hezbullah-controlled Lebanon (also Iranian-dominated).

    To bring down Assad, the Arab League should be sanctioning the Islamic Republic.
    The Iranian regime will not let Assad fall. It has already funnelled billions to prop him up. His control over Syria is vital to keeping the mullah's weapon route open to the Iranian proxy army in Lebanon. The extremist Islamic regime which has control over Iran is the cancer of the Middle East. It is the source of weapons and money to the most violent, anti-peace forces in the region. Until that regime is destroyed, there will be no peace.

  15. Well, I stopped trading with you first Assad said.

  16. Johndrake07 is right. Funny how this article neglects to mention over 1000 Syrian soldiers have been killed in this. We've had covert ops sending money and pushing propaganda for years in Syria and now reaping those "rewards". Poke Syria, Iran might eventually respond, then bomb Iran.
    Read Seymour Hersh's The Coming Wars article from the New Yorker a few years back. The plan's been staring us all in the face for a long time now and Petraeus in as CIA chief keeps it nice and tidy. Obama can't/won't change that.

  17. Instead of retaining its dignity as a fair and objective mediator, the AL as sold itself out to the West and sectarian influence. Since when is the minority allowed to rule the majority? The majority, who support the government, should be entitled to the protection of the government (and the government should be allowed to maintain order) from a miltant minority.

    The Arab League has shown itself to be an inert and ineffective organization mostly demonstrated by its reticents on issues from Egypt to Bahrain to Yemen to Syria. It has become merely another mechanism for the United States and Europe to exercise its influence. It is no longer the voice of pan-Arabism where Arab self-determination can be fostered and manifested.

    May God help the Arabs whose leaders have allowed their souls to be sold to the devil.

  18. Here is a thought - if the Arab League (which rarely agrees with anything not involving Israel) collectively decides that you are the bad guy, then you probably ought to pack your bags and head for Switzerland for asylum. Better that than getting "Qaddafied."

  19. Sahit Muja: The Arab League should sanction Iran for supporting Syria's terrorist regime
    Syria's security forces have committed systematic "crimes against humanity" in their crackdown on anti-government protesters, a UN report says.

    Progress on human rights in the Middle East is always a welcoming thing, it is good to see the Arab League taking stands to protect civilians.
    The Qaddafi regime would not have fallen without the Arab League's statements, and now the Syrian regime is similarly threatened.

    Next time there are peaceful protests in Qatar or Saudi Arabia it will be harder to suppress them with total brutality.
    You have to give the Arab League leaders credit -- they have to know this could boomerang on them at home and yet they are still going ahead with very blunt statements.

    Turkey's leadership also appears to be very constructive. U.S. absence from all this is also beneficial -- leadership on human rights has to come publicly from Arabs and Muslims.
    To bring down Assad, the Arab League should be sanctioning the Islamic Republic.

    The Iranian regime will not let Assad fall. It has already funded billions to prop him up.
    His control over Syria is vital to keeping the mullah's weapon route open to the Iranian proxy army in Lebanon.

    The Iranian extremist Islamic regime which has control over Iran is the cancer of the Middle East.
    Iran is the source of weapons and money to the most violent, anti-peace forces in the region.

    Until Iranian regime is destroyed, there will be no peace in Middle East.

    Sahit Muja

    President and CEO

    Albanian Minerals

    New York

  20. Let us all remember to thank Israel for preventing Assad from gaining access to nuclear weapons.

  21. Somewhat laughable that strong sanctions are said not to be aimed at regime change. Obviously the only solution to Syria's problems is to have the current regime leave office, voluntarily or not. Probably the sanctions are aimed at getting the regime to gracefully bow out instead of being executed by a mob, but it seems to me that with dictators the latter course is always far more likely.

    Also it's ironically hilarious that George Lopez (with the same name as a major comedian, even) says the sanctions “show there is little future in investing in Syria.” Naturally there is never a long-term future in investing in a fascist dictatorship, because they can't last terribly long.

    Anyway it'd be nice if Syria's murderers-in-charge realize they can't stand against the world, and peacefully quit, but however it goes down, they've got to go.

  22. Syria's days are numbered. The regime does not have the financial power to keep its henchmen in high pay, and without the support of the rest of the Arab world, they are sure to fall. The regime could save itself by instituting reforms. Assad can only save his own life by allowing himself to be voted out of power. This he will never do, and therefore he will either flee or be killed within the year. Syria has been a totalitarian, aggressive state for too long and history is finally turning. The end is near.

  23. This is the MOST RIDICULOUS report that the UN has ever made public. How is this an independent report when NO ONE from the UN has entered Syria - all of the reports come from the opposition and they are taken as FACT. What opposing opinions have they gathered? NO ONE. This report is simply a another tool for the purposes of the west to advance its regional agenda - this totally discredits the UN - anyone with a grain of academic education would get fired for submitting such a report as an unbiased assessment of the situation in Syria. I hope that Iran, Russian, China, Iraq and Lebanon - all ignore and work to further marginalize whatever credibility the UN still has in the region POST the invasion of Iraq and WMD's and the literally THOUSANDS of killings from American bombs in Iraq - remember the soldiers that killed civilians in Baghdad? ON VIDEO - where was the UN then? or the ICC? Please - so obvious - where are they in Bharain or Yemen? Where are the reports? This is beyond insulting to anyone with an ounce of brains.

  24. Iran is free to spend billions of its scarce cash to prop up Assad but the outcome is inevitable, if only for one reason: Turkey borders Syria not Iran. If I were the Iranian leadership, I wouldn't want to face the Iranian people over spending billions for an atomic bomb that is yet to materialize and over propping up the doomed regine in Syria. Backing Assad is not going to prove to be a popular move with the forces that will overthrow Assad.

  25. I'll shed no tears to see another dictator that sponsors terrorism both in and outside of his country fall. I am afraid that what will come to replace him will be no better though.

  26. Readers Johndrake07 and Longplan both know what is going on. Of course, the truth is not a mainstream corporate media’s hot topic. I’m only aware of PBS Frontline, and The New Yorker’s Seymour Hirsch (on Democracy Now and Link TV) touched on it.

    It is all geopolitical; modern day colonialism. The Arab League is merely a tool, just as the United Nations. Thus far Russia and China have not been able to respond because it jeopardizes their economic systems which turned from Communism to Capitalism.

  27. Sanctions imposed by various governments and bodies around the world have not worked thus far. Much of Syria's revenue is derived from its oil production, unfortunately, it is such a small fraction of what is produced daily around the world that governments are not as interested in "protecting" Syrians as they were when sectarian violence flared up in oil-rich Libya.

    Here is a look at Syria's oil industry:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/08/syria-oil-producing-nation....

  28. "Sanctions are a two-way street." Yes, when Syria sneezes the whole world catches pneumonia.

  29. The number of dead Syrians must add up to 5 figures, not to mention the number of tortured & sexually assaulted including children. This should never have been allowed to go on this long by a watching world...& the UN should now put Al-Assad's & his brother Maher (leader of Syria's security forces) on the world's most wanted list. Two seats in the Hague should be warmed up for their posteriors o sit on - & the sooner the better.

  30. If Syria makes it to the elections it has scheduled in February, which is probably more likely than not, then it has a good chance of seeing the conflict dwindle and Assad either remain in power as the elected leader or leave power gracefully.

    We have already reached and passed the point that armed resistance to the government can only lead to senseless loss of life. After elections we'll see exactly who in Syria has exactly how much popular support.

    http://mideastreality.blogspot.com/2011/11/winding-down-rather-than-esca...

  31. “Syria cannot be treated like this,” Mr. Moallem said...

    which people of Syria were you referring to, Mr. Moallem?

  32. It is far more than war. It is a blatant move to overthrow Syria's government. The centuries long war between Sunnis and Shiites has been updated to a struggle between Saudi Arabia et al and Iran et al. Syria is a battleground.

  33. First, the Arab League, according to its constitution, has no right to decide without the unanimity of its members. So, it is not an Arab League resolution, but a decision taken by some of its members under the direction of its rich and dictatorial Gulf theocracies
    Second, In Opinions, M. Friedman said rightly that the situation in Syria is very dangerous and could explode in the face of all Syrian Middle Eastern neighbors and perhaps far away countries. For that, the so called Arab League and the West should better be prudent and let the Syrians take care of their own affairs without outside interferences or whatever happens in Syria will happen to them and perhaps, Syria being supported by Russia and China, provoke WWIII.
    The New York Times shows us a picture of manifestations supporting the government and news from Syria also say that the Syrian populations made huge demonstrations (millions in different Syrian cities) against the sanctions and supporting the Assad regime.
    So, when the Arab League speaks about defending the Syrian population, one would understand that the Arab League wants to support a minority against the will of the majority. Is it what the Arab theocracies mean by democracy? How come that the Western medias agree with that?
    I read in the comments that Turkey has the power to hurt Syria. It's true, but Syria and Iran can hurt Turkey a lot. Let's not forget that Turkey needs their help to keep the Kurds obedient to Turkish oppression and it needs Syria for its links with the rest of the Arab world, especially the Gulf countries.
    Let's not forget also that Iran doesn't need to come to Syria to hurt the NATO countries, all it needs is to attack in the Gulf and cut the oil flow to the West. Let's not forget also that Russia is very angry at the West and Turkey for the radar shields installed in Turkey and that Russia needs Syria for its Middle Eastern interests.
    For that, those who are trying to destroy Syria could be playing Russian roulette.

  34. No doubt sanctions hurt all countries in the region. Syria is a crossroad for truck traffic between the Persian Gulf and Turkey. The civilians suffer most, much more the Alawite minority, which makes up just 10% of the population. Maybe they hope that Iran and Russia would jump in and compensate for the loss of revenues.

  35. Members of Syria's government are facing sanctions and travel restrictions over its 8-month crackdown on opposition protesters that has left at least 3,500 people dead. The regime is showing no indication it will soften its position.

    Many Western powers, notably the United States, Britain and France have condemned Syria's brutal crackdown. The Assad regime shrugged off that criticism, but in a surprise move, 18 of the Arab League's 22 members voted to suspend Syria's membershi. And foreign ministers from 19 Arab League nations voted on November 27 to impose economic sanctions against Syria.

    Arab League finance ministers recommended that economic sanctions be levied against the Syrian government for its part in a bloody crackdown on civilian demonstrators. The move was initiated because Syria failed to respond to a deadline for it to permit Arab League observers into the nation to monitor the government's response to civil unrest.

    The foreign ministers agreed to stop dealing with Syria's central bank, to ban high-profile Syrian officials from visiting Arab nations and to freeze the assets of the Syrian government.

    In adition, the sanctions bar any private or commercial airlines from the league's 22 member states from flying into or out of Syria.

    All this criticism from regional neighbors previously considered allies is a blow - real and symbolic - to Assad.

    One effect of the sanctions could be to drive Syria even closer to its main supporter, Iran, which declined to back the move.

    The Assad regime has isolated itself internationally and is ignoring the criticism.

    Most analysts see little prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis, with Assad remaining resistant to all external pressure. This might be the start of a prolonged armed struggle in Syria.

    If Assad does not give up power, he could well wind up dead in a meat-locker, like Libya's Qaddafi.