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Policy Analysis 22 January, 2012

Effects of sanctions on Syria’s macroeconomy in 2012

Keyword

The Unit for Political Studies

The Unit for Political Studies is the Center’s department dedicated to the study of the region’s most pressing current affairs. An integral and vital part of the ACRPS’ activities, it offers academically rigorous analysis on issues that are relevant and useful to the public, academics and policy-makers of the Arab region and beyond. The Unit for Policy Studies draws on the collaborative efforts of a number of scholars based within and outside the ACRPS. It produces three of the Center’s publication series: Situation Assessment, Policy Analysis, and Case Analysis reports. 


Introduction

By December 2011, a full range of American, European, and Arab-Turkish economic sanctions against Syria was in place, taking effect just as the Syrian crisis - which is basically a crisis of the regime - was reaching its highest degrees of complication and of internal, international, and regional impasse, on all levels. The effect of these sanctions compliments the cumulative effect of previous American sanctions against Syria, including those enacted in 1980 after Washington deemed Damascus a "state sponsor of terrorism", the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SALSRA) (signed by Bush on December 12, 2003 imposing additional economic sanctions on Syria) as well as those adopted in 2006 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic al-Hariri.

While the motives behind the 1980 and 2006 sanctions - which remain in effect - were geopolitical, the new ones imposed since April 2011 came under the rubric of punishing the Syrian regime for using excessive violence against protesters, to limit its sources of funding for such operations, and to garner geopolitical returns in the longer run during the phase following a change in the regime, its weakness, or its collapse. As a result, Syria found itself, by the end of 2011, facing a new range of sanctions with varying intensities in terms of tangible and predicted effects on the ruling establishment's system of socioeconomic relations; however, these sanctions are compounded by the cumulative effect of previous sanctions, forming in their ensemble what could be described as "targeted sanctions".

The 1980 sanctions were based on a technology ban applying to all goods and equipment containing ten percent or more in American components. These were compounded in 2006 with systemic sanctions against the banking sector, especially the Commercial Bank of Syria under the Patriot Act. The 2011 sanctions have added to this cumulative effect new, harsher, and more comprehensive effects, as well as various economic, financial, and psychological repercussions for the general economic capacity of the public economic-social-political system of production and its sources of income and financing (figures, companies, businesspeople, investments, credits as well as financial, monetary, and banking instruments). Thus the sanctions, as a whole, represent a concerted policy package designed, at a minimum, to weaken the regime and reduce its political capacities, and, at a maximum, to open the way for its collapse due to economic damage.

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