Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa
Sanctions are very often described by those enforcing them as nonlethal measures. As you mentioned, Claudia, I would argue that sanctions, when used as a brutal and vindictive component of a neocolonialist hybrid war strategy, are arguably more devastating than a military war when they are imposed by global super force nations against weaker and poorer target nations like Syria. In conjunction with the proxy war that has been fermented and sustained by the same nations, it becomes as much a weapon of mass destruction as the terrorist mercenary armies these US Alliance Nations have unleashed upon the Syrian people.
Thus, for me, it’s almost impossible to speak about the economic sanctions against Syria in isolation and without referring to the parallel measures that ensure they hit the poorest people in Syria the hardest. I would argue that the effects of the US, UK, EU, Turkish, and Arab League sanctions are equivalent to the campaign of infrastructure destruction carried out by the illegal armed groups funded and armed by the US regime change coalition.
In other words, sustained nations and promoted by their aligned media outlets. The act of withholding means of sustaining life to innocent civilians in order to coerce an entire nation into submission to foreign agendas in the region must surely qualify as economic terrorism. The destruction of essential civilian infrastructure is a war crime. The withholding of essential resources or occupation of those resources is also a war crime. The correlation between economic and military coercion was made clear by previous Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s point man on Syria Ambassador James Jeffrey, who not only described Al Qaeda as a US asset in Syria but also bragged openly about the misery that sanctions had brought to the Syrian people in December 2020.
I believe, he said. Of course, we’ve ratcheted up the isolation and sanctions pressure on Assad. We’ve held the line on no reconstruction assistance and the country is desperate for it. You see what’s happened to the Syrian pound. You see what’s happened to the entire economy.
So it’s been a very effective strategy. In other words, he’s crowing about the success of imposing universal misery against the Syrian people. There are a number of sectors of Syrian society that are being targeted by sanctions and those all impact upon the health sector. But they are also being targeted by US occupation and proxy terrorism, which ensure that quality of life of Syrian civilians is severely reduced and their human rights are being gravely violated. First of all, the fuel or oil sector. Production had been affected drastically by the sanctions applied in 2011 2012, and even before the effect of curtailing import and export of petrol between 2011 2014 is estimated to be around a $21 billion loss for Syria.
When ISIS occupied the Syrian oil rich region of northeast Syria, they were banking around $3 million per day in stolen revenue. The Kurdish separatist, US contrast, are now benefiting also from the sale of Syrian resources on the back of the US occupation of the northeast oil fields. The US itself is stealing Syrian oil via Delta Crescent Energy oil company established under the Trump administration. Other beneficiaries include Al Qaeda, who also set up an oil refinery monopoly going by the name of Wattad that receives the stolen oil stolen by the US and its proxies and then trades it in Turkey.
Effectively, the US or their proxies seize Syrian oil fields early on in the conflict, and this provided revenue for the various Contra forces under their control, including ISIS, enabling them to further steal resources, ethnically cleanse areas of Syria and destroy infrastructure while increasing sanctions and imposing a brutal blockade on the Syrian people, the majority of whom live in areas now under the protection of the Syrian government.
The industrial sector and this, of course, includes the pharmaceutical industry. A huge number of factories have been forced out of existence by incremental sanctions and production has been reduced in those that survive. The cause is lack of fuel, electricity, parts for machinery. The majority of the machines and the parts came from the EU. There are now banned.
Reports from the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce in 2015 detailed total closure of 26,000 factories, partial closure of 17,000 and suspended production in 50,000. At the same time, armed groups including Nusra Front and ISIS invaded the industrial areas of Aleppo and dismantled thousands of factories, destroyed power grids, Railways, etc. And to provide trade revenue in Turkey. Many factories were reestablished inside Turkey. In October 2015, the US coalition bombed the Aleppo thermal power station, then under control of ISIS, ensuring total blackout in Aleppo and the surrounding countryside.
The agricultural Sector this sector has been affected by, of course, the rising cost of fuel, the lack of machinery parts. Thanks to the sanctions, some of the most abundant olive and cotton growing areas have been occupied by the armed groups who again benefit from the illegal trade of Syrian food crops via Turkey and Iraq. Vast waves of Syrian forestry and wheat crops were deliberately burned. In 2020. The US coalition dropped thermal balloons into wheat crops in the northeast.
Kurdish Contras took control of wheat storage facilities and restricted supplies. Damascus to the Syrian people, bread cues became a familiar scene throughout Syria, and prices of food went through the roof. Syria is being driven into an enforced and dangerous food insecurity by a combination of military and economic force, both backed by the same criminal. US UK led alliances. the health sector. While the claim is being made that the humanitarian sector is exempt from sanctions, this is misleading and I’m being polite.
Almost 50% of Syrian hospitals have been destroyed during the war in this country, many were occupied by terrorist groups and converted into military centers, Sharia courts, detention and torture centers. For example, the Eye and Children’s Hospital in East Aleppo, which was finally liberated by the Syrian Arab Army and allies in December 2016. I visited all of these restored hospitals restored to free Syria. Really free Syria. An estimated 20 pharmaceutical factories were also destroyed or occupied during the terrorist invasion.
Syria had a fleet of 703 ambulances in 2011, 350 have been destroyed or stolen by the armed groups or their Western backed auxiliary white helmet. The remaining hospitals and equipment are suffering from lack of updated technology, parts and maintenance because again the majority of the hardware was applied originally by the EU. This has led a pause to the scarcity of drugs for chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, kidney disease. The health sector which offered a free healthcare, I would say definitely comparable to what we’re seeing. Talk about in Cuba has always been a source of pride for the Syrian state.
Now 41 public hospitals and 621 medical centers are out of Commission. There are restrictions on, for example, on the import of chlorine gas used as a water purifier which has resulted in the spread of infectious diseases due to the pollution of drinking water. At the same time, NATO member state Turkey is deliberately depriving Syrian people of water in the Hacienda region by shutting off the water from the Euphrates. The sanctions are again only one element of a war of hydrohedgemony waged by the US coalition against the Syrian people.
Sorry my cat always likes to join in .A war that impacts upon the health sector with devastating consequences.
The most recent and Savage Caesar Act sanctions introduced under Trump are preventing the rebuilding of hospitals and repair of essential machinery, the closure of many of the rural hospitals leading to inevitable overcrowding of city hospitals resulting in delays in treatment and the spread of disease. Sanctions on the health sector are a deliberate and criminal targeting of the Syrian people by the US coalition and this violates all human rights conventions. It must be condemned. The electricity and transport sectors which again has an impact on the health sector.
The electricity sector has been devastated by a combination of war and sanctions.
There’s been a drastic lowering of output which is affected by the lack of fuel thanks to the occupation of oil resources and inability to source spare parts. Damages in 2015 due to electricity outages were estimated at $16 billion. Now in 2021 that figure will be hugely increased. Armed groups dominated by NASRA front have systematically destroyed electrical power stations, fuel warehouses, gas and oil pipelines and stolen entire power grids to trade inside Turkey. Entire railway lines have been torn up and melted down again inside Turkey or sold as scrap.
The Syrian transport system is affected by lack of fuel, fair parts and destruction of essential infrastructure.
All of these have a debilitating knockon effect on Syrian society and how it functions. An overall View There have been huge price hikes in food across Syria, around 300% to 500% increases. In some instances fuel prices have gone through the roof. Inflation is really only just under control. This is all engendering food insecurity malnutrition and poverty among 80% of the population. Wages have remained static, so an average government employees earning around 50,000 Syrian pounds per month $16 at today’s rate while for example, two kilos of chicken is now 20,000 Syrian pounds. You have a very good idea of how malnutrition the majority of families 80% of families will be in Syria in the winter. Many areas of Damascus we’re receiving electricity for only 3 hours per day in rural areas.
Even less, the cost of heating, fuel and gas for cooking is now extraordinary for one gas bottle on the black market between 30 to 40,000 Syrian pounds. While there are long waits for subsidized government supplied gas, there is a shortage of fuel which has led to queues of up to two days to receive 20 liters of fuel. Lebanon is now also running out of fuel, having been one of the main suppliers of black market fuel to Syria. Iran that is trying to break the embargo on Syria with fuel tankers is of course always coming under attack by the US coalition and is regularly escorted by Russia for security.
Unemployment is rising exponentially.
Apartment rental costs have soared while the building of new projects are on hold due to lack of materials, equipment and investment. Families are being torn apart because young people are risking the dangers of illegal travel routes to the EU and beyond to try to earn money to send back to their impoverished relatives in Syria. The sanctions are suffocating Syria and they are being used to deliberately increase the suffering of the Syrian people who have resisted ten years of war waged against them by the US UK coalition that is ensuring their inability to rise out of the quagmire of that hall.
The US coalition is effectively following a policy of collective extermination of the Syrian people by military and economic means. This is a crime against humanity, a war crime and a flagrant violation of the right to life and a life of dignity.
Syria is a member of the United Nations. These coercive Unilateral measures targeting the people of Syria are a violation of the UN Charter. Under the most recent and Barbaric Caesar sanctions considered by many experts to be illegal, greater pressure is being brought to bear against nations who would try to help Syria rebuild. At the same time, the US, UK, EU, Turkey and Israel continue to support and promote terrorism in Syria and enable their proxies to pillage and plunder Syrian resources, further punishing the Syrian people. The sanctions against Syria are a malevolent attempt to bring the country to its knees after one of the most protracted and expensive UK US led regime change wars has failed militarily.
The sanctions are not affecting the alleged targets. They are killing the Syrian people and they are killing their hope for the future. We must campaign against them to restore peace and stability to Syria. Thank you.
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