The Syrian army's siege of Dara'a, the heart of the country's anti-government uprising, entered its second day Tuesday, with reports of bodies strewn in the streets. President Bashar Al-Assad sent tanks and soldiers into the city, in a dramatic escalation of his efforts to bring an end to five weeks of anti-government protests. The U.S. called the violence "completely deplorable," and the Obama administration is considering targeted sanctions against the country's leaders, according to The New York Times. But would that really do any good?
Yes, sanctions could hurt Assad: So far, the U.S. and other foreign powers have only tried tough talk, says Una Galani at Reuters, and that obviously isn't working. Past sanctions didn't prevent Syria from supporting Hezbollah, but sanctions might "be more effective now that support for the regime is waning." And if Europe joins in, "the measures could have real bite."
"West can find ways to pressure Syria"
Don't get your hopes up: Freezing the assets of the regime's diehard supporters won't accomplish much, says Brian Whitaker at The Guardian. "President Assad's corrupt cousin, Rami Makhlouf, has already been under U.S. sanctions for several years without any obvious effect." Outsiders can and should signal their disapproval and avoid cooperating with the Assad regime, but "actually toppling it is probably going to depend on the efforts of Syrians themselves."
"This time, brutal crackdown in Syria may not work"
Effective or not, sanctions are a must: The U.S. has few diplomatic ties with Syria, so President Obama's leverage is limited, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. "But an international effort to freeze assets and stop business relations could at least be an expression of condemnation beyond a sternly worded press release." The siege of Dara'a is clearly a massacre in the making. If Obama really wants to help "pave the way to a new, inclusionary Arab world less susceptible to alienation and extremism," he needs to strike a blow against the bad guys in Syria.
"U.S. floats sanctions for Syria"