Sanctions Against Syria Harm the People


29.08.2011 by Hassan Shahin

The revolution in Syria has weighed heavily on the local economic regime. But for the first time, the governor of the Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayalah, admitted this obvious truth by saying that Syrians will have to tighten their belts stating sanctions imposed by the Europeans and Americans and a weakened economy based on the ongoing protest movement, will negatively affect the Syrian citizen. Mayalah said in an interview with the French Press Agency, “we will face increasing difficulties due to the sanctions and events and we will have to tighten belts”. He added that the first sector that was adversely affected in Syria was tourism whose revenues decreased by ninety percent. Transport, imports and industries will suffer more and more problems, increasing poverty and unemployment.

To condemn the Syrian government’s violent suppression of demonstrations, resulting in more than 2200 deaths, the international community led by the US, imposed severe trade sanctions on Damascus. According to Mayalah, the ban is a sanction against all Syrians, especially the most vulnerable ones. He added that the people alone will suffer and not the regime, indicating the ban leads to a rise in prices which will hurt the poorer people the most.

The new sanctions imposed by the US prevent the import of oil and oil derivates to the US, and freezes all Syrian assets located in its territories under its laws. After the imposition of sanctions, Syria stopped entering into transactions using dollars and moved completely to the euro.

Mayalah, who is 55 years old and has been in charge of the Central Bank of Syria for six years, said that not using the dollar is unprecedented in the country’s history. However, he indicated Syria has been encouraging this move for a few years. “Since 2005, we have been encouraging all economic sectors to enter into transactions in euros, but the majority of them, unfortunately, continued to deal with the dollar”. Mayalah stated that Syria’s dollar reserves total $17.4 billion dollars, down by about $800 from the middle of last March, the beginning of the protest movement. He added that the exchange rate of the Syrian lira has remained fairly stable which was our goal since the beginning of the crisis”, affirming that the dollar rate in the parallel market reached 50.4 Syrian liras and its official rate reached 47.69 liras.

Mayalah denied rumors that six billion dollars was transferred from Iran to support the Syrian lira. He said it’s a mockery “How could billions arrive? This is ridiculous”. He continued that the stability of the Syrian lira results from the establishment of a fund, two years ago, for currency exchange rate fluctuations.


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