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Sun 4 Dec 2011 08:00 AM

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Arab League bans travel for Syrian officials

President’s brother among the 19 named in group’s travel ban, asset freeze

Arab League bans travel for Syrian officials
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi

The Arab League froze the assets of 19 Syrian officials,
banned their travel and reduced air travel to the nation Saturday as protests continued
against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother, and businessman
Rami Makhlouf are among those who won’t be allowed to travel in Arab League
states and whose financial assets in those nations will be frozen, the league
said in a statement in the Qatari capital Doha after a meeting of the group’s
foreign ministers.

Half of air travel to and from Syria and Arab League states
will be cut staring Dec 15, the statement said. The travel ban and flight
reduction will go ahead if Syria doesn’t comply today, with an Arab League plan
for releasing political prisoners and admitting international monitors.

Political turmoil in Middle Eastern and North African
countries has toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya this year.

Islamist groups have won elections in Morocco and Tunisia,
where the region’s wave of uprisings began a year ago. Tunisia’s Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in January, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak was toppled a month later and is currently on trial, Libya’s Muammar
Qaddafi was killed in October and Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed
an accord to relinquish power last week.

Egypt’s two main Islamist blocs said they may have won about
70 percent of the votes in parliamentary elections earlier this week that are
the first major test of public opinion since Mubarak’s ouster.

The alliance dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom
and Justice Party won about 40 percent in the first round of the elections,
which took place in one-third of the country’s provinces, according to party
spokesman Ahmed Sobea. Two individual candidates backed by the alliance won
seats and 47 others will contest re-runs, he said.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri said he will
announce a new cabinet Dec 7, Al Jazeera reported.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi appointed el-Ganzouri as a new
interim prime minister last month when the previous premier’s government
resigned after a police crackdown on protesters that killed more than 40

In Yemen, forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh
shelled the town of Taiz for the third consecutive day, killing five. Yemen’
state media reported that a cease-fire had been agreed to, it said.

Yemen’s ruling party selected Vice President Abdurabuh
Mansur Hadi as its candidate to run in the Feb 21 presidential election at a
meeting yesterday, according to the state-run news agency SABA.