The EU has finally agreed to issue a set of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and officials in his regime. Whether this development is a direct result of President Obama’s speech last week is indeterminable, however, what we all knew before was that EU sanctions would be a painful blow to the Assad family. Unfortunately, while this human rights atrocity drags on (at least 44 protesters reported dead this weekend), there are not many tools in the U.S. toolbox to shape events. In terms of an economic or diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and the Syrian government, there is none. The U.S. had only normalized relations in the past year after suspending the embassy in 2005 as a result of reported Syrian assistance in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The Syrian government had much deeper trade relationships with Eurozone countries. Likely, the effects of these sanctions will not be clear. But at least the EU has finally gotten around to backing up their rhetoric.