SUN 12 - 7 - 2020
 
Date: Jun 16, 2020
Source: The Daily Star
What do new US sanctions mean for Syria?
Reuters
AMMAN: The toughest US sanctions yet on Syria take effect this week, increasing the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad as he grapples with a deepening economic crisis after a decade of war.

Washington says sanctions will help hold Assad and his backers to account for war crimes in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Damascus says it is an escalation of economic warfare against its citizens.

US congressional aides said they expect an announcement as soon as Wednesday.

WHAT IS CHANGING?

Syria has already been under US and EU sanctions that have frozen the assets of the state and hundreds of companies and individuals. Washington already bans export and investment in Syria by Americans, and transactions involving oil and hydrocarbon products.

The new sanctions give US President Donald Trump wider powers to freeze the assets of anyone dealing with Syria, regardless of nationality, and cover many more sectors from construction to energy.

The law also targets for the first time those dealing with Russian and Iranian entities in Syria, hitting allies of Assad.

The new legislation could label Syria’s central bank as a "primary laundering concern".

Sanctions can be lifted if six demands are met, including ending the bombing of civilians, releasing tens of thousands of detainees and allowing "the safe and dignified" return of refugees.

WHAT WILL THE ECONOMIC IMPACT BE?

The sanctions are expected to further deter investment in Syria and deepen Syria's isolation from the global financial system. Syria experts say they end hope Damascus and Moscow once entertained of a global reconstruction effort before a political transition that satisfies the West.

Lebanon, a traditional conduit of goods and finance for Syria, will be hard hit as businesses with links to Damascus will have to navigate the new risks, bankers say. Other business partners in neighbouring Jordan and in the UAE are already on edge, abandoning plans to invest in Syria, businessmen say.

A recent collapse of the Syrian currency is due partly to the prospect of the new sanctions being applied. Wealthy Syrian expatriates will be discouraged from investing back home.

As economic conditions worsen further, there is also the possibility of a new wave of unrest: rare demonstrations have recently broken out in Sweida, a government-controlled area that did not rise up against Assad in 2011.

WILL ORDINARY SYRIANS BE HURT?

The new law exempts imports of essential food and humanitarian items but adds more scrutiny to UN and NGO aid to ensure they are not benefiting Assad's government.

Some Western non-governmental organisations, while saying Assad's government deserves to be punished, are wary of any impact on civilians.


 
Readers Comments (0)
Add your comment

Enter the security code below*

 Can't read this? Try Another.
 
Related News
Russia and West in showdown over aid to Syria's rebel area
Hospitals in Syria's rebel area reduce services amid virus
Families of Syria detainees hope for news amid US sanctions
After 'reconciliation': Syria regime's silent crackdown
Syria harvest boom brings hope as hunger spikes
Related Articles
Seeking justice for Assad’s victims
Betrayal of Kurds sickens U.S. soldiers
Trump on Syria: Knowledge-free foreign policy
Betrayal of Kurds sickens U.S. soldiers
Kurdish commander pleads for U.S. support
Copyright 2020 . All rights reserved