Economy Is Assad’s New Enemy

Assad’s brutal suppression of the Arab Spring uprising cannot overcome a new obstacle to his remaining in power – a crumbling economy.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 19:16

 Syria Protest
Syria Protest
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Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal suppression of the Arab Spring uprising cannot overcome a new obstacle to his remaining in power – a crumbling economy.

Hotels are empty, sanctions have cut exports, and the currency has dropped by 17 percent, undermining the comfort of the urban middle class that so far has not been a major force in the uprising that began nearly three months ago.

Assad warned in his recent televised speech of “the collapse of the Syrian economy.”  

“We as businessmen want a solution, and we can’t wait forever,” Mohammed Zaion, a garment dealer told The New York Times. “The president should find a way out of this crisis, or he should leave it to others. We need a solution, whatever that solution might be.”

The uprising has crippled the $8 billion a year tourist industry as Europeans and Turks look elsewhere. The only inflow of tourists has come from Iranian Muslims visiting holy sites in Syria.

The official government news agency SANA has quoted economists claiming that the sanctions have had a limited impact and that the drop in exports to Europe actually may be a blessing in disguise because it forces Syria to look to China and Latin American to open up new markets.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem asserted earlier this month that Syria would forget that "Europe is on the map" and find markets to the east and south.

However, the time it takes for those markets to develop as the clock ticks away on the present tense. Syria’s state-run oil company has been forced to cut daily exports by 37 percent, according to a shipping schedule seen by Bloomberg News.

Canada’s Suncor Energy opened a new natural gas plant in Syria last year but now is worried about its image as it tries to uphold ”the company’s values,” the company told the Financial Times.  




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