* Arabs say will not target ordinary Syrians
* Qatar, other Gulf Arabs leading calls for action
* Iraq voiced reservations over sanctions
(Adds quotes, details)
By Yasmine Saleh and Ayman Samir
CAIRO, Nov 27 Arab states voted on Sunday to
impose economic sanctions on Syria immediately, in response to
President Bashar al-Assad's failure to halt a violent crackdown
on an eight-month uprising against his rule.
Qatar said that if Arab nations failed to resolve the
crisis, other foreign powers might intervene.
Nineteen of the Arab League's 22 members voted for sanctions
that include a travel ban on senior Syrian officials, freezing
Syrian government assets, halting trade dealings with the
central bank and stopping Arab investment.
"The decision should be executed immediately, starting
today," Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad
bin Jassim al-Thani told a news conference after he chaired a
meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.
The Arab League has for decades avoided imposing sanctions
its members but has been spurred into action by the scale of
bloodshed during Syria's crackdown and by the failure by
Damascus to implement an Arab peace plan.
The Arab peace plan called for sending in Arab monitors,
withdrawing Syrian troops from residential areas and starting
talks between the government and opposition. Damascus ignored
several Arab League deadlines.
Arabs have said they want a regional solution and do not
want foreign intervention in Syria. France became the first
major power to seek international involvement last week when it
called for "humanitarian corridors" to protect civilians.
Sheikh Hamad said foreign powers might intervene if they did
not consider Arabs "serious" in their bid to end the crisis.
"All the work we are doing is to avoid this interference,"
he said, adding that the League could itself seek international
intervention "if the Syrians do not take us seriously".
Hundreds of people, including civilians, soldiers and army
deserters, have been killed in Syria this month, in unrest
inspired by uprisings that overthrew leaders in Tunisia, Egypt
The new sanctions could plunge Syria deeper into economic
crisis, although the League said measures were not intended to
hurt ordinary people.
"This is a very sad and unfortunate day for me," the Qatari
minister said. "I had hoped the Syrian brothers ... would stop
the violence and release the political detainees."
Qatar has been at the forefront of the drive to end the
violence, backed by other Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia
which have long been frustrated by Syria's alliance with
Riyadh's regional rival Iran.
Lebanon, which for years had a Syrian military presence on
its soil, voted against sanctions, as did Iraq, which neighbours
Syria and Iran. Baghdad had said before the meeting it would not
"Iraq has reservations about this decision. For us, this
decision ... will harm the interests of our country and our
people as we have a large community in Syria," Iraqi Deputy
Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi told Reuters.
Non-Arab Turkey attended the Cairo meeting. Foreign Minister
Ahmed Davutoglu said Ankara would act in unison with Arabs.
"When civilians are killed in Syria and the Syrian regime
increases its cruelty to innocent people, it should not be
expected for Turkey and the Arab League to be silent," Davutoglu
said, according to Turkey's state news agency.
"We hope the Syrian government will get our message and the
problem will be solved within the family," he said, adding that
the region did not want a repeat of events in Iraq and Libya,
two states where international powers intervened.
During Libya's uprising, an Arab League call for an no-fly
zone led to a U.N. Security Council resolution, which in turn
paved the way for NATO air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
(Additional reporting by Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad, Seda Sezer
in Istanbul and Tom Perry in Cairo; Writing by Edmund Blair)