Syria: Busra Al Assad’s day in Court

On 12 March 2014 the Sixth Chamber of the General Court of the European Union reached a verdict on case T-202/12. The case number does not reveal anything but if one takes the time check who is the applicant and the defendant things does takes another turn: Busra Al Assad and the Council or the European Union. So, time for a little bit of history.

On 9 May 2011 the Council of the European Union adopted Decision 2011/273/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria. In the view the serious situation in Syria at that time the Council decided on an arms embargo, ban of export which might be used for internal repression, restriction on admission to the European Union of certain persons responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria and the freezing of their assets as well as the assets of entities, i.e. private and government companies and institutions that is responsible for said violent repressions against individuals. On 23 March 2012 Busra al-Assad was added to what has been known as the EU sanction list. The motivation for this was the following: “Sister of Bashar al-Assad and wife of Asif Shawkat, Deputy Chief of Staff for Security and Reconnaissance. Given the close personal relationship and intrinsic financial relationship to the Syrian regime figures, she benefits from and is associated with the Syrian regime”.

16 May 2012 Bushra al-Assad appealed the decision adding her to the EU sanction list asking the court to repeal the registration. In additional information to the appeal Bushra al-Assad submitted proof on 30 July 2013 concerning the death of her husband, Asif Shawkat and that she now lived in the United Arab Emirates together with her children who attended school there as proof that she had severed the ties to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. On 6 September 2013 the Council argued in their legal brief that the evidence provided by Bushra al-Assad – the death of her husband – did not change the fact that she was tied to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Furthermore the information she had submitted did not prove that she had left Syria.

In the appeal al-Assad argued that the Council had failed in four separate regards when listing her:

Next, the General Court finds that when the restrictive measures were adopted, the Council did not infringe Ms al-Assad’s rights of defence or her right to effective judicial protection. Following her entry on the list, Ms al-Assad was informed of the grounds for her designation and invited to submit observations. The fact that that notification occurred after her initial listing cannot be regarded in itself as an infringement of the rights of the defence. Prior notification of the grounds would be liable to jeopardise the effectiveness of the fund-freezing measures, which must have a surprise effect and apply immediately. The Council was not, therefore, required to hear Ms al-Assad prior to her initial listing or even before adopting subsequent acts (in which the Council did not admit any new evidence). Lastly, the General Court notes that Ms al-Assad has had the opportunity over several months to challenge the evidence justifying her initial and continued inclusion in the list.

The General Court also finds that the Council was fully entitled to presume that persons whose ties to members of the Syrian regime are established may be regarded as supporting the regime or benefiting from it and, therefore, as being associated with it. That applies in the case of Ms al-Assad, despite the death of her husband and the overly vague nature of the Council’s reference to her relationship with ‘other core Syrian regime figures’. According to the General Court, the mere fact that Ms al-Assad is the sister of the Syrian President is sufficient for the Council to be able to regard her as being linked to the leaders of Syria, particularly since it is well known that power has traditionally been exercised on a family basis in Syria, which the Council was entitled to take into account.

The General Court also notes that the Council produced extracts from internet sites indicating Ms al-Assad’s political role, which confirms that she is associated with the Syrian regime. The General Court rejects Ms al-Assad’s arguments that, as a non-working mother, she does not perform any public or economic function, and that her children are now at school in the United Arab Emirates. The General Court finds that the fact that Ms al-Assad’s children are at school in the United Arab Emirates is not sufficient for her to be regarded as having dissociated herself from the Syrian regime and as having been forced to flee the country. There may be many other reasons for a change in Ms al-Assad’s residence, such as the deterioration of the security situation in Syria.

Lastly, the General Court recognises that the restrictive measures restrict Ms al-Assad’s right to property and affect her private life, since she does not have free enjoyment of her possessions and her freedom of movement is limited. However, given the overriding importance of the protection of civilian populations in Syria and the derogations provided for by the contested decisions (periodic review of the decision by the Council), the General Court holds that the restrictions are not disproportionate.

Thus the General Court dismisses that application and confirms the entry of Ms Bushra al-Assad, sister of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on the list of persons subject to restrictive measures taken against Syria.

 

Posted in Council of the European Union, European Union, Sanctions, Syria

Syria: the twin bombings in Damascus points to regime weakend by incompetence, mistrust and treason

Twin bombing rocked central Damascus this morning. The first went off at 06:55 and was followed minutes later by the second bomb. The targets – the Ministry of Defense General Staff HQ and the Airforce Command building, are in a close proximity mere minutes away from each other, high profile with accompanying heavy security presence, located in the upscale ‘embassy district’ of Abu Rumaneh not far from Bashar al-Assads private home. The bombings were followed gunfire that continued for at least four hours.

The fact that the twin attack could be executed against these targets, in that part of Damascus are in itself a strong indication of the continuing evolution of efficiency of parts of the FSA. But what are more interesting are the conclusions of the Assad-regime that can be drawn from this act:

The regime could not prohibit this twin bomb attack (i) despite what must have been a shake up of the security services following the bomb attack in Rawda at the General Security HQ that, among other, killed Asef Shawkat, against (ii) two high profile military targets (iii) located in the center of Damascus (iv) in the upscale Abu Rumaneh neighborhood – what has been described as the ‘embassy district’ – an area that before the uprising were crawling with mukhabarat, (v) against targets located not far from the private residence of Bashar al-Assad.

The conclusions to be made of this are the following: The regime is weak – weaker than what has been anticipated. The conflict in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria has sapped the strength from the army and security services. We know that the regime is pressed in finding soldiers that they can trust, hence the increasing reliance on airplanes, helicopters and artillery to combat the uprising. The leaks and treason inside the regime that made the attack against the General Security HQ in Rawda possible seems not to have been dealt with. The Assad regime is facing an internal crisis. It is slowly falling apart under its own incompetence, mistrust and the internal opposition from so-called loyalist who in reality are working for the opposition.

Posted in Syria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Syria: UNSC resolution 2059 – a wrap up of UNSMIS

UNSC resolution 2059, which was adopted unanimously, extended the UNSMIS mission in Syria for another 30 days. But reading the text it is also clear the mission will end by that time if no major changes will occur, changes that in present conditions of civil war in Syria is impossible to imagine short of a collapse of the Assad regime. The text of resolution 2059 and the crucial text is in bold is as follows:

United Kindom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
draft resolution
Commending the efforts of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS),
1. Decides to renew the mandate of UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days, taking into consideration the Secretary-General’s recommendations to reconfigure the Mission, and taking into consideration the operational implications of the increasingly dangerous security situation in Syria;
2. Calls upon the parties to assure the safety of UNSMIS personnel without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access, and stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities;
3. Expresses its willingness to renew the mandate of UNSMIS thereafter only in the event that the Secretary-General reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence by all sides sufficient to allow UNSMIS to implement its mandate;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution within 15 days;
5. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Posted in China, France, Morocco, Russia, Syria, UK, UN Security Council, UNSCR, USA | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Syria: the final statement for the Syrian opposition conference

Held in Cairo July 2-3, 2012

The Syrian opposition conference held under the auspices of the Arab League completed its work on the evening of 3 July 2012, with the participation of 210 figures representing the various Syrian opposition sides, political trends and independent figures inside and outside Syria, and revolutionary movements. The conference discussed responsibly all the core issues related to the Syrian revolution and the conference issued the following documents:

- A compatibility document defining the joint political vision for the Syrian opposition regarding the challenges of the transitional period.

- The national compact document that structures the constitutional basis for the future of Syria, which are justice, democracy and plurality.

- The conferees agreed that the political solution in Syria begins with the removal of the regime represented in Bashar Al-Assad and figures of his authority, and guaranteeing accountability of those who are involved in the killing of Syrians. The conference demanded as well an immediate stop of acts of killings and violations committed by the Syrian regime; the withdrawal of the army; the dismantling of the siege imposed on Syrian cities and residential areas; and the immediate release of detainees.

- The conference emphasized support for the Free Syrian Army and all forms of revolutionary movements, and working on unifying the powers of the Free Syrian Army and its leaders to serve the goals of the Syrian people’s revolution.

- The conference emphasized asking all Syrian people to work on protecting the civil peace and national unity.

- The conferees emphasized in the documents issued by the conference that the desired change in Syria will not happen except with the free will of the Syrian people who revolted against the oppressive and tyrant regime. The conference demanded structuring a compulsory mechanism to provide protection for civilians and a time frame for immediate and full implementation of the resolutions of the Arab League and UNSC, and asks the UNSC to take the necessary procedures to mandate immediate implementation of these resolutions.

Syrian Opposition Conference

July 2-3, 2012

THE NATIONAL COMPACT

The participants pledged that a new constitution of the country to approve the contents of this Pact:

• The Syrian people are one people, whose texture was established through history on the full equality of citizenship regardless of their origin, color, sex, language, ethnicity, political opinion, religion, or sect, on the basis of a comprehensive national concurrence,  No one is to impose a religion or a belief on anyone, or to prevent any one of the free choice of his  religion and its practice. Women are equal with men, and it is not permissible to go back on the gains of any of their rights. Any citizen has the right to occupy any position in the state, including the post of President of the Republic, regardless of his religion or nationalism either man or woman. Thus, the Syrian people are to be proud of their rich and diverse civilization, cultural and religious roots, representing a main part of their culture and society and build their own state on the basis of unity in diversity, with the participation of various components without any discrimination or exclusion.

• Man is the aim of the relationship between the members of the one nation, which is based on a commitment to international conventions and protocols on human, social, and economic rights, endorsed by humanity, and to ensure the enjoyment of these rights for citizens and residents alike.

• Syrian people are free and sovereign in their country and land, which are two inseparable political units and it is not allowed to give up any inch of it, including the occupied Golan. The Syrian people have the right to struggle for the restoration of their occupied territories by all possible means.

• Individual, public and collective freedoms are the basis for the relationship between the people of one nation; the State shall guarantee public freedoms, including freedom of access to information and media, the formation of NGOs, Syndicates and political parties, freedom of belief and practice of religions, freedom of peaceful demonstration and strike.  The state establishes rules to safeguard these freedoms from the dominance of money or political power. The Syrian State shall guarantee the respect of social diversity, beliefs, interests and privacies for all spectrums of the Syrian people, and to recognize the cultural and political rights for all the people and their aspiration for development and care.

• The Constitution guarantees removal of all forms of discrimination against women and seeks to create legislative and legal conditions that guarantee enabling them politically, economically and socially in accordance with all relevant international conventions and community culture.

• The Syrian State recognizes the existence of a Kurdish nationality among its citizens, with their legitimate national identity and rights according to international conventions and protocols, within the framework of the unity of the Syrian nation. The Kurdish nationals in Syria are considered as an integral part of the Syrian people. The State shall similarly recognize the existence, identity and national rights of the Assyrian and Turkmen Syrian nationals, who are considered an intrinsic part of the Syrian community.

• Syria is part of the Arab World, its peoples are linked by bonds of culture, history, interests, major goals and a common destiny. Syria, a founding member of the League of Arab States, is looking forward to strengthening various forms of cooperation and interdependence between the Arab countries.

• The Syrian people are committed to supporting the Palestinian people and their right to create their own free, sovereign and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

• The Syrian people are linked to all other Muslim peoples with joint historical roots and common human values based on divine religions.

• Syria is part of the global system and is a founding member of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations; therefore Syria is committed to its Conventions, and seeks with other countries of the world to establish an international order removed from all central conflicts, domination, and occupation. A system based on balanced relations, mutual interests and shared responsibility in facing general challenges and dangers that threaten security and peace of the world.

• People are the source of legitimacy and sovereignty which are achieved through a democratic, republican, pluralistic, civil system, where law prevails and is based on institutions.  Monopolization of power or inheriting it under any form is not allowed.

• The ruling institutions in the Syrian state stand on the basis of periodic elections and complete separation between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and on the principle of the rotation of power through free and secret elections, and respect for election results determined by the ballot box, regardless of the election results.

• A new Constitution is to approve the basis of a democratic, pluralistic and civic system, as well as a modern electoral system, that ensures the right for fair participation of all ideological and political currents, according to rules ensuring a broadest representation of the people, stability of the parliamentary system, adequate controls the financial resources and expenditures of political parties and groups.

• The Syrian army is the national institution that protects the country and safeguards its independence and sovereignty over its territory, is keen on the national security and does not interfere in political life.

• The State will adopt the principle of administrative decentralization, so that the local administration is based on representative executive institutions to administer citizen services and development in the provinces and regions, in order to achieve sustainable and balanced development.

• The State shall protect private property, which may not be seized except for public benefit within the law and in exchange for fair compensation, without re-allocating them for special interests.

• The State shall safeguard public funds and public properties for the benefit of the people.  Its policy is based on social justice, balanced development, and redistribution of income and wealth through the tax system between social categories and between regions, and ensuring freedom of investment, economic initiative, equal opportunities and markets within anti-monopolization and speculation control, and which protects the rights of workers and consumers.

• The Syrian State is committed to removing all forms of poverty and discrimination, and fighting unemployment with the aim of full decent employment and fair wages, and to achieve justice in the distribution of national wealth, and balanced development and environmental protection, and to provide basic services for all citizens: housing, zoning, clean drinking water, sewage/sanitation, electricity, telephone, Internet, roads and public transportation, quality education and qualification, comprehensive health insurance, retirement pensions and unemployment compensation, at prices appropriate with the standards of living.

The first draft for this document has been drafted and approved by the preparatory committee to be presented to the Syrian Opposition Conference. It has been discussed in the first session of the conference, and some amendments were approved by the participants in the conference in the concluding working session in the evening of July 3, 2012.

Syrian Opposition Conference

Final Version

The Joint Political Vision for the Features of the Transitional Phase as Approved by the Syrian Opposition Conference held Under the Auspices of the League of Arab States in Cairo

July 2-3, 2012

Removal of power and transitional phase

Definitions:

The removal phase is a stage of struggle and determination until Bashar al-Assad and the symbols of power are toppled.

The transitional phase is the stage between this removal and the election of a President and a Parliament on the basis of a new constitution for the State of Syria, and the emergence of a government representing the elected parliament. For their achievement, both phases require compromise actions between the forces of opposition at political, legal, security, economic and social levels, as well as at the level of transitional justice.

1 – REMOVAL Phase:

Justice for the sacrifices and the sufferings of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity will only be through the removal of the main symbols of power, because their presence represents an obstacle for the construction of the democratic pluralistic civil state, a state of equality in citizenship and freedoms, which all Syrians are going to produce. Struggle will continue for this goal on the following basis:

• The political solution in Syria starts with the removal of Bashar al-Assad and the figures of his authority, and holding accountable those involved in the killing of Syrians.

• Revolutionary persistence, popular will and revolution would continue until the removal of the ruling authority.

• Desired change will not take place unless by the will and sacrifices of the Syrians, through an Arab and international effective mobilization, to protect the unity, sovereignty and stability of Syria and setting an abiding mechanism for the protection of the Syrian civilians and a timetable for the immediate and full implementation of the resolution of  the relevant Arab League and Security Council Resolutions, and demanding the Security Council to take the necessary measures to impose the immediate implementation of these resolutions.

• The need to unite the efforts of the opposition at all levels in order to achieve the toppling of the regime as soon as possible.

• Supporting the revolutionary movement and Free Syrian Army, and working on uniting its forces and leaders, so as to serve the objectives of the revolution of the Syrian people.

• To invite all parties to act with full keenness on the protection of civil and national peace.

 

2- TRANSITIONAL PHASE

This phase starts on the moment of Bashar Al-Assad and the official regime figures fall and ends with the election of a free legislative council based on a permanent new constitution.

  • Political and legal reference:
    • Immediately as Bashar Al-Assad and regime icons fall, the government shall be dismissed, the current parliament shall be dissolved and a caretaker government shall be installed with agreement among political and revolutionary opposition powers, and the authority of the national fait-accompli and those whose hands are clean from the blood of Syrians or from embezzling public funds, relying on basis that comply with the documents and resolutions of Cairo Conference, until the formation of a transitional government.
    • As soon as the caretaker government assumes authority, the ruling Baath Party shall be dissolved along with all its affiliated institutions, and their properties will be seized and returned to the state, while its members will be allowed to practice political work according to the new laws.
    • To call for a wide national conference in Damascus to include all political powers and society segments without exception, in order to ratify the establishment of a temporary legislative body (General Authority to defend the goals of the revolution and democratic transition) and a transitional government of personalities known for their efficiency and integrity.
    • The temporary legislative body shall work on issuing a constitutional declaration relying on the national compact document adopted at the Cairo Conference and that includes the status of the presidency in the transitional phase, as well as the Supreme Judicial Council, National Security Council, Supreme Authority for Accountability and Reconciliation, the General Authority for Social Re-compensation and Reconstruction. This body shall be responsible for observing the executive authority, issuing temporary laws organizing daily life during the transitional phase, including freedoms of media, demonstration, establishment of parties, syndicates and associations, and it will cancel all the discriminatory declarations and laws against the Kurdish, Turkmen and Azurite nationalities in Syria or any other segment of the Syrian people.  It shall establish a law for elections of a constituent council and draft for a permanent constitution based on the national compact.
    • The transitional government shall be responsible for administering the country’s affairs under the control of the legislative body formed by the national conference and it shall handle the priorities for eliminating the social and urban effects of the previous regime and to enhance the national economy.
    • Within the maximum of one year of its establishment, the temporary legislative body and the transitional government shall work to hold elections for the constituent parliament, which shall approve the constitution draft and present the constitution to a public referendum within a maximum period of six months.
    • As soon as the constituent parliament is elected, the temporary legislative body shall be dissolved and a new government will be formed based on the majority that resulted from the elections.
  • Military and security establishment:
    • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad and figures of authority fall, the honorable elements of the regular army whose hands were not stained by the blood of Syrians shall sign with the free Syrian army and armed resistance a memorandum of understanding that regulates the operations of a ceasefire and withdrawal of the army back to its barracks, establishing security, and preserving civil and national peace under the care and supervision of the Security Council, if necessary.
    • The transitional government shall establish a National Security Council headed by the chairman of the executive authority and it shall include among its members honorable military leaders whose hands were not stained with the blood of Syrians as well as elements of free army, armed resistance and relevant civilian figures, and this National Security Council abides by the regulations established by the temporary legislative body.
    • The National Security Council shall oversee the restructuring of the armed forces and security agencies after they submit to the Council’s authority in order to rid these agencies of whoever is proven to have been involved, dissolve armed militias (Shabiha), withdraw weapons from civilians, and to recruit revolutionaries who want to join the armed forces.  This Council shall also protect the records and documents to facilitate the establishment of transitional justice, protection of prisons and maintaining safety of public and private properties against any vandalism.
  • Transitional Justice:
    • A General Authority for Accountability and National Reconciliation will be established under the supervision of the temporary legislative body and then the constituent parliament, based on the basics of the national compact, to:
    • Achieve justice for all the victims who were subjected to systematic violations of their humanitarian rights or abused, to compensate them and hold accountable those who committed such actions, as well as finding mechanisms for additional social compensations that would prevent the aggravation of social conflicts.
    • To establish transparency in publishing the documents and facts regarding the behavior of those who committed the crimes in addition to the experiences of the victims.
    • Creating mechanisms for accountability and transparency to prevent the occurrence of new violations during the implementation of transitional justice and regaining the faith and confidence of citizens in state institutions, as well as contributing to enhancing the authority of the law and democratic institutions and their legitimacy; aiming at consolidating a suitable environment for mending the cracks and achieving a comprehensive, inclusive reconciliation at national and local levels.
    • To treat the individual and mass effects of violence, oppression and tyranny and to provide physiological support for children, women and victims of violence.
    • To eliminate the effects of previous discriminative polices, including the cancellation of law no. 49 for the year 1980, removing the injustice towards the displaced of Golan, the victims of the events of the eighties, the 2004 Kurdish intifada, the confiscations and their effects, and to compensate afflicted people, and find fair solutions for accumulating problems.
    • To eliminate the effects of discriminative and unjust policies and laws against the Kurdish nationality in Syria and their consequences, and compensate all afflicted Syrian people, and restoring the rights to its deserving people.
  • The General Agency of Accountability and National Reconciliation includes specialists in different legal, social, rights, psychological and cultural fields in addition to national, social and artistic figures that enjoy credibility and the ability to influence in order to implement the mechanisms of transitional justice through the following steps:
  • An independent judicial authority to decide about the crimes committed by the regime including the high officials of the regime such that it becomes fair and objective and achieves the proper speed in accountability operations.
  • The fact-finding committee shall work on collecting statements and investigating the crimes of the regime during the revolution and refer them to the judicial authority, including high leadership and front lines of the regime.
  • A historical committee that aims at investigating the long term crimes and revealing the facts regarding the crimes of the Syrian regime against Syrian people, such as Hama massacre, the issue of political detentions, field executions and the issue of forcibly migrating and arbitrary displacing people.
  • Local reconciliation committees to include influential patriotic and social personalities benefiting from social nature to start working on a process of national reconciliation and national dialogue using different means and taking into consideration in its formation local privacies of the Syrian social structure.
  • Arbitration committees to work on settling small civil conflicts created by the revolutionary period with regard to individuals, which shall take into consideration settling minor issues and civil disagreements and work on national reconciliation.
  • The authority shall establish a Commemoration Office that will honor the memory of martyrs and detainees and to establish memorial statues for the martyrs in order to morally and psychologically compensate the society.
  • To insert the principles of transitional justice in the educational and school curricula, as well as within religious, social and cultural establishments.
  • Issue amnesty for some minor crimes related to recent events.
  • Regarding crimes related to revolution events that involved individuals and gangs (Shabiha), the ordinary courts shall continue to operate according to Syrian law and look into these crimes – parallel with reforming these courts – and will guarantee the adequate speed in issuing verdicts related to these crimes and guarantee the right of all citizens to utilize the law, appeal personally, and have access to a fair trial.
  • To establish a psychological and social support teams affiliated with a specialized office in the agency and in cooperation with civil society organizations specialized in treatment of shock cases related to all kinds of violence practiced against women, children, and detainees in order to rehabilitate them and offer them the necessary medical care and recovery needed for re-integrating them.
  • This Agency works in cooperation with the judiciary to establish regulations for accountability and reconciliation regarding members of the former authority and armed groups (Shabiha) and to guarantee the right of all citizens in fair trials that would secure their rights.
  • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad and regime figures are toppled, the properties of the members of the former regime, their families and relatives involved in embezzling public funds inside and outside, should be put seized until the whole issue is dealt with according to the regulations to be established by the temporary legislative body or the parliament, including money retained abroad.
  • Economic and social situation
    • A General Agency for Social Compensations and Reconstruction will be established under the supervision of the temporary legislative body and then the parliament, based on the basics of the national compact to:
    • Support the afflicted by current developments and reconstruct their private properties that were demolished.
    • Support the families of all martyrs, detainees, injured and disabled persons and compensate them fairly.
    • Return displaced and internally- and externally-migrated people and resolve their situations.
    • Contribute with the government in reconstructing the infrastructure and public establishments affected by recent developments, and in funding urgent economic and social procedures.
      • All international and foreign aid shall be put under the jurisdiction of this Agency in coordination with donors. Appropriations of the Agency of Accountability and National Reconciliation shall be spent from the appropriations for this agency.
      • As soon as Bashar Al-Assad falls, demand the international community cancel all comprehensive sanctions imposed on Syria and its institutions and to assist the state in regaining funds of the authority that are kept abroad.
      • The transitional government shall work on establishing polices that would quickly address the following:
      • Re-launching the national economy at all levels
      • Inflation
      • Securing the essential commodities
      • Poverty  and increased poverty in areas afflicted by the incidents,
      • Monopolies

The first draft for this document has been drafted and approved by the preparatory committee to be presented to the Syrian Opposition Conference. It has been discussed in the first session of the conference. The Drafting Committee that was formed by the Conference introduced the amendments to the document based on the suggestions presented by the participants in the Conference. Then, the document was discussed, and traditional amendments were introduced and approved in the concluding session of the conference in the evening of July 3, 2012.

Posted in Syria, Syrian Opposition | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Syria: Assad rejects transition plan for Syria

In an interview with Iran’s channel 4, published on the SANA homepage to coincide with the result of the Action Group of Syria’s transition plan Bashar al-Assad, among other, rejected the solution agreed upon.  The plan agreed upon by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States) and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States), and the European Union High Representative called for full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms and political transition in Syria. In this later part Russia and China had objected to language specifying that Bashar al-Assad would have to leave power. Instead the agreed formula by the Action Group on Syria was this: “…The establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent”.

The reaction from Bashar al-Assad was this: “We, in Syria, do not accept any model that is not Syrian and national, regardless of whether it was imposed by superpowers or proposed by friendly countries. No one knows how to resolve the problem in Syria as well as we do, as Syrians… so, any model that comes from abroad is unacceptable regardless of its content.” This statement was also echoed in the heading of the article: Syria Built its Policy on National & Popular Compass, We Don’t Accept any Type of Solution from Abroad Regardless of its Content.

Assad also praised countries like Russia, China and Iran who supports not any specific individual or regime but stability as Syria is such an important country in the region. Assad also noted that those armed groups in opposition are a mixture of outlaws and terrorist.

All in all Assad rejected the proposal out of hand. The new pna on transtion turned out to be another still-born product watered down by Russia, supported by China. The questions is what is next but escalation of the civil war?

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Syria: Bouthaina Shaaban and six Syrian state entites sanctioned by EU

In yesterdays EU Foreign Affairs Council one person and six entities were added to the EU sanction list. These are:

Persons
1. Bouthaina Shaaban (a.k.a. Buthaina Shaaban).

Born 1953 in Homs, Syria. Political and Media Advisor to the President since July 2008 and as such associated with the violent crackdown on the population.

Entities
1. Ministry of Defence
Address: Umayyad Square, Damascus Telephone: +963-11-7770700
Syrian government branch directly involved in repression.

2. Ministry of Interior
Address: Merjeh Square, Damascus Telephone: +963-11-2219400, +963-11-2219401, +963-11-2220220, +963-11-2210404
Syrian government branch directly involved in repression.

3. Syrian National Security Bureau
Syrian government branch and element of the Syrian Ba’ath Party. Directly involved in repression. It directed Syrian security forces to use extreme force against demonstrators.

4. Syria International Islamic Bank (SIIB) (a.k.a.: Syrian International Islamic Bank; a.k.a. SIIB). Location: Syria International Islamic Bank Building, Main Highway Road, Al Mazzeh Area, P.O. Box 35494, Damascus, Syria Alt. Location: P.O. Box 35494, Mezza’h Vellat Sharqia’h, beside the Consulate of Saudi Arabia, Damascus, Syria
SIIB has acted as a front for the Commercial Bank of Syria, which has allowed that bank to circumvent sanctions imposed on it by the EU. From 2011 to 2012, SIIB surreptitiously facilitated financing worth almost $150 million on behalf of the Commercial Bank of Syria. Financial arrangements that were purportedly made by SIIB were actually made by the Commercial Bank of Syria. In addition to working with the Commercial Bank of Syria to circumvent sanctions, in 2012, SIIB facilitated several substantial payments for the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank, another bank already designated by the EU. In these ways, SIIB has contributed to providing financial support to the Syrian regime.

5. General Organisation of Radio and TV (a.k.a. Syrian Directorate General of Radio & Television Est; a.k.a. General Radio and Television Corporation; a.k.a. Radio and Television Corporation; a.k.a. GORT). Address: Al Oumaween Square, P.O. Box 250, Damascus, Syria. Telephone (963 11) 223 4930. State-run agency subordinate to Syria’s Ministry of Information and as such supports and promotes its information policy. It is responsible for operating Syria’s state-owned television channels, two terrestrial and one satellite, as well as government radio stations. The GORT has incited violence against the civilian population in Syria, serving as a propaganda instrument for the Assad regime and spreading disinformation.

6. Syrian Company for Oil Transport (a.k.a. Syrian Crude Oil Transportation Company; a.k.a. “SCOT”; a.k.a. “SCOTRACO”. Banias Industrial Area, Latakia Entrance Way, P.O. Box 13, Banias, Syria; Website http://www.scot-syria. com; Email scot50@scn-net.org
Syrian state owned oil company. Provides financial support to the regime.

Original text published in L 165/22 Official Journal of the European Union on 26 June 2012.

Posted in European Union, Sanctions, Syria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria: Salim Altoun and the Altoun Group added to the EU sanction list

As published today in the Official Journal of the European Union, the following persons and entities have been added to the EU sanction list:

A. Individuals

 
1. Adib Mayaleh, born 1955, Daraa
Adib Mayaleh is responsible for providing economic and financial support to the Syrian regime through his functions as the Governor of the Central Bank of Syria.

 
2. Salim Altoun, a.k.a. Saleem Altoun, a.k.a. Abu Shaker.

Born 1940 in Caracas,   Venzuela. Chairman and CEO of Altoun Group.  He has Venezuelan citizenship, identification number 028173131 (probably in possession of Venezuelan passport). He has a Lebanese residence and work permit number: 1486/2011.
Provides financial support to the regime. Involved in a scheme through Altoun Group to export Syrian oil with the listed company Sytrol in order to provide revenue to the regime.

3. Youssef Klizli

Assistant to Salim Altoun. Provides financial support to the regime. Assisted Salim Altoun in setting up a scheme through Altoun Group to export Syrian oil with the listed company Sytrol in order to provide revenue to the regime.

 
B. Entities

1. General Organisation of Tobacco

Salhieh Street 616, Damascus, Syria
Provides financial support to the Syrian regime. The General Organisation of Tobacco is wholly owned by the Syrian state. The profits that the organisation makes, including through the sale of licenses to market foreign brands of tobacco and taxes levied on imports of foreign brands of tobacco are transferred to the Syrian state.

2. Altoun Group

Altoun Group Maaraba Damascus Countryside North Circular Highway Damascus Syria tel.: 00963-11-5915685 Postal Box 30484 1987 US SIC Codes 6719 NACE Codes 7415. Provides financial support to the Syrian regime. The entity is involved in a scheme to export Syrian oil with the listed company Sytrol in order to provide revenue to the regime.

ANNEX II
The entries in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 for the persons named below shall be replaced by the entries set out below:

1. Manal Al Assad a.k.a. Manal Al Ahmad
Born: 02.02.1970. Place of Birth: Damascus Passport number (Syrian): 0000000914 Maiden name: Al Jadaan. Spouse of Maher Al Assad, and as such benefiting from and closely associated with the regime.

2. Issam Anbouba
President of Anbouba for Agricultural Industries Co. Born 1952 in Homs, Syria
Providing financial support for the repressive apparatus and the paramilitary groups exerting violence against the civil population in Syria. Providing property (premises, warehouses) for improvised detention centers. Financial relations with high Syrian officials.

3. Mazen al-Tabba
Born: 01.01.1958 Place of Birth: Damascus Passport number (Syrian): 004415063 expires 06.05.2015. Business partner of Ihab Makhlouf and Nizar al-Assad (subjected to sanctions on 23/08/2011); co-owner, with Rami Makhlouf, of the Al-Diyar lil-Saraafa (a.k.a. Diar Electronic Services) currency exchange company, which supports the policy of the Central Bank of Syria.

The entry listed below shall be removed:
68.  Saqr Khayr Bek

The original text is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, L 126, 15 May 2012.

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