Jointly, the countries of the European Union have agreed to embargo oil from Syria in response to treatment of pro-democracy protestors in that country. It is their intention to step up pressure on the Syrian government in an effort to end the attacks on protestors.

Over the past five months, Syria has seen its share of violence with government troops killing civilians demonstrating against Assad’s government. Combined in their resolve, the United States, the EU and other western governments are asking President Assad to step down an end the tyranny and violence once and for all. To date Assad has shown no indication that he plans to do so.

In an effort to force his hand, the EU made a joint statement that they were in favour of the Syrian oil embargo but one country was given a temporary exemption as Italy can have contracts fulfilled until November. This is indicative of the fact that there are divisions in the oil sanctions, but in the end it was seen as something which must be done to put further pressure on the Syrian government.

The embargo goes into effect Saturday 3 September and will be in place until Syria stops its assault on the pro-democracy demonstrators or until Assad steps down, whichever comes first. As well as the embargo, the EU has increased travel bans on seven more entities and individuals and has further stated their right to freeze assets.

Although the European countries are the main importers of Syrian oil, European companies operating within Syrian borders will continue to be able to do so. This will be true until such time that the EU sanctions are broadened to sanction all collaboration with Syria and Syrian energy companies. According to the Dutch Foreign Minister, the oil embargo will work to place serious pressure on the current regime in Syria.

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