April 24, 2012- On Monday, the European Union added more sanctions against the regime in Syria. The EU banned the sale of luxury goods to Syria that can have civilian as well as military uses. This happened, as the political head of the United Nations demanded that the government of Syria comply with the current cease fire accord and stop using its heavy weapons.
The U.N. Security Council was told by B. Lynn Pascoe that the April 12 cease fire still is incomplete and violations of human rights are still being perpetrated with complete impunity. He also said that the Syria government has not implemented the complete peace plan that was negotiated by special U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.
The luxury items ban imposed by the EU takes aim directly at some of the most loyal supporters of President Bashar Assad: the prosperous merchants and business community that is helping to keep Assad in power. The business leaders are an influential group and have for a long time traded political freedoms in exchange for economic privileges in the country.
Thus far, the wealthy in Syria have not interfered in the power struggle, but if the current economic squeeze arrives at their front door, it could hurt Assad’s chances of remaining in power. Assad took over power in 2000 and spent time moving the country away from the workings of socialism that his father imposed. By doing so, he helped create a new and vibrant class of merchants that changed the economic landscape of the country without changing the regime’s political trappings.