European nations summoned Syrian ambassadors Wednesday in a coordinated demand that President Bashar Assad stop gunning down his people, and Germany said sanctions were possible if the crackdown did not ease.
The United States called on the UN’s top human rights body to approve an independent probe and recommend prosecution if violations of international human rights law are uncovered.
A draft resolution to be considered at an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday demands an immediate end to Assad’s efforts to crush the es challenge to his rule. It also calls on Syria to lift its ban on nearly all foreign media and ease its restrictions on the Internet and telecommunications.
France, Britain , Germany, Italy and Spain told Syrian ambassadors that they condemned the violence and said that Assad must change tactics, according to France’s foreign ministry.
The German government said it would strongly support EU sanctions against the Syrian leadership and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said an arms embargo, asset freezes and travel restrictions were possible.
“If there is not an immediate change of course by the Syrian leadership, the international community will have to come up with consequences _ then sanctions against Syria will be inevitable,” Westerwelle said.
The European condemnation was a significant personal blow to Assad, a British-educated self-styled reformer who has made a high priority of efforts to bring Syria back into the global mainstream, efforts that included hosting a series of visits from European diplomats.
It was far from clear, however, if Europe’s shaming of Assad would have enough impact to moderate his government’s brutal handling of the Syrian uprising.
“This is a revolutionary movement and if he doesn’t stop it, it will mean regime change and possibly civil war,” said Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies , who runs a blog called Syria Comment. “The threat of sanctions from Europe isn’t going to be uppermost in his mind.” Agencies