Sunday

25th Aug 2019

EU sanctions on Syria enter into force

  • Razor wire - one of the banned items on the EU list (Photo: Jacksoncam)

Thirteen members of the Syrian leader's inner circle are as of Tuesday (10 May) forbidden from entering EU countries and risk having their accounts frozen if any are discovered in European banks.

The sanctions legally entered into force via their publication in the EU's Official Journal, with senior EU diplomats to meet in Brussels later in the day to discuss adding President Bashar al-Assad's name to the roll-call if mass killings and detentions continue.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The four top men on the list-of-13 are Maher al-Assad, Hafez Makhlouf, Rami Makhlouf and Ali Mamlouk.

The EU journal describes Maher al-Assad, the president's 43-year-old younger brother and the commander of an elite military division, as the "principal overseer of violence against demonstrators." He is said to be psychologically unstable and to have shot a general, Assef Shawqat, in the stomach in 1999 in a personal dispute.

Rami Makhlouf, a 41-year-old billionaire tycoon and the president's cousin, is the only man on the list with no formal connection to security services. The EU journal says he "bankrolls the regime allowing violence."

Ali Mamlouk, 65, is not related to the al-Assads, but is the country's top spymaster and behind-the-scenes diplomat.

Mamlouk in late 2010 held high-level meetings in London and Paris to set-up joint training programmes for secret service officers. A leaked US diplomatic cable from February last year saw him offer to help Washington hunt terrorists in return for exports of aviation equipment and the sale of a luxury jet for the Syrian leader.

Hafez Makhlouf, Mamlouk's de facto number two man in the intelligence services, is co-ordinating the crackdown in Damascus and is said by the EU journal to be "close to Maher al-Assad."

The other nine include two more al-Assad family members, the interior minister, junior intelligence chiefs and regional security commanders. One of the men, Rustum Ghazali, was in charge of Syrian intelligence in Beirut when the pro-Western Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri was assassinated in 2005.

The EU sanctions also include an arms embargo and a ban on sales of equipment which can be used in internal repression.

The arms ban is nominal because Syria gets most of its guns from non-EU suppliers. Germany and Italy were the top EU arms exporters in 2009, but the total sales amounted to less than €4 million.

The EU list of repressive equipment includes items such as razor wire, water cannons, anti-riot body armour and bayonets.

Meanwhile, UK press is reporting on Tuesday that President al-Assad's wife, Asma, a designer-label-loving socialite born and educated in Britain, has left Syria with the couple's three young children and is living in London.

The British daily The Telegraph cited a senior Arabic diplomat as saying: "Clearly her presence could cause huge embarrassment to the British, so none of this has been made public."

EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit

The focus at the G7 summit will most likely narrow down to the global economy and foreign affairs, but the EU is also set to make a number of pledges on transparency and fighting diseases.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Analysis

Pentagon: ISIS is resurgent in Syria

The US department of defence warns that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is working on a come back in Syria. It is regrouping and supporting activities. This might trigger a new refugee displacement to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us