We quite often hear that government X is imposing sanctions on government Y and I think that usually we say, “this is good. they probably deserve it.” The United States, many European countries, and now the Arab League, have enacted sanctions against the Syrian regime because of it use of violence against demonstrators. Over 3,500 Syrians have died at the hands of the government and some estimates put the number much higher. Sanctions clearly seem like the least that other countries can do to isolate the regime and persuade it to change its ways but I don’t think that we ever consider what kind of effects sanctions can have of the common man. I thought that this was an interesting topic so I decided to write an article about it. Here it is.
SANCTIONS AGAINST SYRIA TAKE TOLL ON POPULATION
Queues at gas stations stretching for hundreds of meters are now commonplace in Syria as people line up to get their share of petrol, which is becoming increasingly scarce throughout the violence stricken nation.
Economic sanctions imposed, especially on the oil sector, by the United States and several European countries have had a severe impact on the Syrian economy. These measures, taken to isolate the Bashar al-Assad regime, are now trickling down and affecting the ordinary Syrian citizen.
Syrians rely on petrol as the means to heat their homes so as the winter season approaches and temperatures begin to drop, the Syrian people will begin to face a second adversary aside from al-Assad and his security forces, the cold.
The difficulty acquiring fuel is exacerbated by the spike in demand for it by the Syrian security forces that have been extra busy as of late as they have been trying to crush the anti-government demonstrations that have taken root throughout the country.
In addition to the petrol crisis that is fomenting and which will likely get worse as winter takes hold, trade has begun to stagnate in light of the violence and the numerous sanctions enforced against Syria by Western countries.
“Trade is pretty much at a standstill in Homs, Hama, Deir ez-Zor, and even Lattakia,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) spokesman, Abdul Omar, told Bikyamasr.com.
“In the biggest cities such as Damascus and Aleppo, you still see trade continuing. People there are shielded from the rest of the country,” he added.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Syrian economy to deflate by nearly two percent this year as a result of the unrest and economic sanctions applied against the regime.
The economic situation is likely to get worse as the Arab League approved the implementation of its own economic sanctions while its representatives gathered at an emergency meeting in Cairo this past weekend.
However, revenue will continue to flow into Syria as Lebanon and Iraq abstained from the vote and have rejected its sanctions. Iraq and Lebanon account for nearly 40% of Syria’s export-based revenue.
“This income is used to finance the elites of the main cities. Keeping trade flowing is necessary to keep them aligned with the regime,” continued Omar.
“Before the unrest the government was interested in keeping the economy flowing, now whatever is left is used to keep the regime alive,” he added.
Despite the growing number of sanctions from the United States, several European countries, and now nearly all of the Middle East, Abdul Omar does not believe that this will be enough to topple the al-Assad regime.
“Economically the country will always have enough money to keep its army going. Look at North Korea, it’s in total isolation and yet still keeps its army going,” concluded the SOHR spokesman.
I have also written an article about the Arab League’s decision to sanction Syria and its significance. Its a useful read to further understand what’s going on. You can read it via the following link: