On Wednesday the EU came up with a black list of parties responsible for repression in Syria and the killing of 2,200 people. They included Iran's elite Al-Quds force as well as five army generals and the military intelligence network; that much feared wing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is believed to have provided "technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services in repressing civilian protest movements," as the EU Journal puts it.
Those "directly involved in repression and violence against the civilian population in Damascus," on the other hand, include Generals Rafiq Shahadah, Jami Jami, Nawful al-Hussein, Muhammed Zamrini and Ghassan Khalil as well as former defence minister and presidential special envoy Hassan Bin-Ali al-Turkmani, the deputy commander of the Syrian army, Munir Adnuf, and businessman Samir Hassan (who is identified as a regime financier). A total of 15 individuals, four of them close associates of President Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher, the commander of the army's fourth division, and five entities including four government agencies are named. The fourth division was accused of playing a central role in suppressing protests and Maher singled out by EU and American representatives pressing for new sanctions at the United Nations in New York.
The list covered by EU asset freezes and travel bans now runs to 50 people and nine entities. Sanctions under consideration include an embargo on Syrian crude oil, of which as much as 95 per cent the EU imports; that was discussed on Tuesday in talks between the French government and oil giant Total. Britain has expressed reservations about the effectiveness of such a ban, which could also be mirrored by sanctions on Syria's banking and telecommunication sectors. A diplomatic source warned that an oil embargo, worth up to one third of the government's income, may not have the desired effect, since China may simply step in to fill the gap. US President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Spain called publicly on Assad to step down, but China and Russia continue to oppose this view.
On Tuesday Syrian dissidents founded a "national council" in what appeared to be an echo of opposition tactics in Libya.