* Russian UN envoy: now isn't the time for sanctions
* Assad's family, key associates also targeted
* US, EU hope for swift vote on sanctions draft
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Western nations
circulated a draft U.N. resolution Tuesday that calls for
sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, influential
members of his family and key associates.
U.S. and European delegations hope to put the draft
resolution to a vote in the 15-nation Security Council as soon
as possible. The sanctions are the Western nations' response to
Damascus' five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators,
which the United Nations says has left 2,200 civilians dead.
But Russia, which has veto-power, said it does not think
sanctioning Damascus is the right approach at the moment.
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France, Germany,
Portugal and the United States and obtained by Reuters, says
the council "strongly condemns the continued grave and
systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities"
and "demands an immediate end to the violence."
While it would call for freezing Assad's financial assets,
as it does for 22 other Syrians, it excludes him from the list
of Syrians facing an international travel ban. The draft also
lists Assad's passport number as D19093.
Others targeted for sanctions include Assad's brother
Maher, commander of the army's 4th armored division, which is
said to have played a key role in suppressing protests, Vice
President Farouq al-Shara, and Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf, a
tycoon who controls Syria's biggest cellphone firm Syriatel.
Among the other individuals on the sanctions list are the
defense minister and several senior intelligence officials.
The resolution would impose sanctions on Syria's General
Intelligence Directorate and three companies that it says
provide funding for the government. One of the firms, the
Military Housing Establishment, is partly controlled by the
Syrian defense ministry, the resolution says.
RUSSIA ISN'T CONVINCED
The others on the proposed blacklist, Al Mashreq Investment
and Bena Properties, are owned by Makhlouf. Bena is Syria's
largest private real estate company and Al Mashreq is the
largest shareholder in Syriatel.
The draft resolution would also forbid "the direct or
indirect supply, sale or transfer to Syria ... of all arms and
related materiel" as well as arms exports by Syria.
An arms embargo would not likely be welcomed by Russia,
which is a key supplier of weapons to Damascus.
Moscow's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was going into a
regular Security Council meeting on Tuesday when he was asked
whether he thought it was time for sanctions on Damascus.
Churkin told reporters, "No, we don't think so."
Russia, along with Britain, China, France and the United
States, has the power to veto any resolution, and Churkin's
remarks suggested that persuading Moscow to back tough measures
would not be easy for the drafters of the sanctions text.
Russia is not alone. China, South Africa, Brazil and India
have indicated that they would have trouble supporting punitive
measures against Damascus. Council resolutions need nine votes
in favor and no vetoes to pass.
Diplomats said the text will be revised before it is put to
a vote in the council. During negotiations on it, diplomats
say, Russia and China will try to dilute the proposed steps.
Diplomats had told Reuters that an earlier version called
for referral of the Syrian violence against protesters to the
International Criminal Court in The Hague, as happened in the
case of Libya earlier this year.
The draft delivered to council members, however, only
contains a vague threat that ICC referral was a possibility. It
has the council "noting (U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay's)
recommendation that the Security Council consider referring the
situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court."
(Additional reporting by Patrick Worsnip; editing by Philip
© 2016 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.