BEIRUT (MCT) — Arab efforts to reach a compromise with Syria over its violent crackdown on dissent appeared to be all but over Sunday as foreign ministers meeting in Cairo voted overwhelmingly to impose punishing sanctions against the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad.
The rare action by the Arab League, an organization often criticized as spineless and ineffective, came after Syria repeatedly ignored deadlines for accepting Arab observers to monitor a peace deal agreed to this month.
Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al Thani, said 19 of the league’s 22 members approved the sanctions, which include freezing government assets, halting funding for projects in Syria and suspending cooperation with the country’s central bank.
It was a humiliating blow for Syria, a founding member of the league, which it accuses of acting as the tool of the United States and other Western governments.
The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed since mid-March, a figure disputed by Syria.