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Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

EU to Syrian regime: No more caviar, fancy cars

Asma Assad

By DON MELVIN

BRUSSELS — The European Union sent a message Friday to the Syrian regime, which stands accused of killing thousands of its own citizens: No more caviar, fancy shoes or primo cigars for you until the violence stops.

The European Council says a ban will begin Sunday on exporting to Syria some luxury items or “dual use” goods that could be used forinternal repression. Its statement listed some prime examples: caviar, shoes and clothing costing more than €600 ($750); gems and pearls; and cars costing more than €25,000 ($31,400). Also banned are gas masks and certain chemicals and toxins.

Syria is descending into a spiral of bloodshed, with U.N. observers reporting a sharp increase in violence in recent weeks. Activists say 14,000 people have been killed since March 2011, when an uprising began against President Bashar Assad and his regime responded with a violent crackdown.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the new round of sanctions was necessary and had been designed to avoid affecting ordinary citizens.

“In the current situation, the EU must keep up the pressure on the Syrian regime,” Ashton said in a statement. “EU sanctions target those responsible for the appalling repression and violence against the civilian population.”

But Edward Burke, a research fellow at the London-based Center for European Reform, said the practical impact of the ban on luxury items would be “zero.”

“This is an existential fight for them — caviar or not,” Burke said. “These are guys with their backs to the wall, blood on their hands and nothing to lose.”

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

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Don Melvin

Slobodan Lekic

Raf Casert

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