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How Western Sanctions Crippled Syria

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The West has placed some form of sanctions on Syria since the Carter Administration when the nation was added to the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. George W. Bush increased sanctions in 2004 to push the “War on Terror” agenda as the US invaded sovereign nations under false pretenses. However, it was not until 2011 that the sanctions against Syria really caused the economy to fold.

Sanctions 300x125Former President Obama implemented new sanctions that directly target the Syrian oil sector. This wave of sections forbids all petroleum investments and imports as well as exports. Individual assets for individuals and entities were frozen as well. Obama vowed not to lift sanctions until President Bashar al-Assad stepped down. The US used the pretense of Assad being a brutal leader who the people needed to be liberated from with the help of the world police force aka America. Transcripts from Obama’s 2011 executive order:

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way… As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people.  I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria.  This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.”

The European Union placed sanctions on Syria in 2011, as did the UK. Syria was essentially cut off from the world economy, and the hope of readmittance vanished in 2019 when former President Trump signed the Caesar Syria Protection Act. The act was named after a Syrian detainee names Caesar who documented human rights abuses and war crimes allegedly carried out by the Assad regime. Once the Caesar Act passed, there was no hope for Syria. People could not even send money to their relatives in Syria without repercussion. The US outlined six demands that needed to be met to lift the sanctions:

  1. End to Syrian and Russian aircraft bombing civilians.
  2. Iranian, Syrian and Russian forces, as well as entities connected to them, no longer restrict humanitarian access to besieged areas and allow for civilians to leave freely.
  3. All political prisoners are released, and the appropriate international human rights organizations are given full access to Syria’s prisons and detention facilities.
  4. Bombing of “medical facilities, schools, residential areas, and community gathering places, including markets” by Syrian, Russian, Iranian forces, as well as entities connected to them, ceases.
  5. The possibility for the “safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Syrians displaced by the conflict” is achieved.
  6. Accountability for “perpetrators of war crimes in Syria and justice for victims of war crimes committed by the Assad regime, including by participation in a credible and independent truth and reconciliation process.”

It all ties back to the US and Russia vying for Syrian oil. Both sides were bombing Syria into oblivion. The US has not lifted sanctions despite desperate cries for help from the Syrian people. At least 1.5% of the entire population of Syria is now dead, and over 90% live in extreme poverty. Biden recently claimed sanctions do not work, but he was referring to a country with a larger GDP and established infrastructure. Russia was able to bypass the sanctions, continue trading with allies, and most importantly hold power over one of the world’s most important natural resources. It is no wonder that Syrian men are fighting along with Russia against the West and will likely align with Eastern powers for generations to come.