Supporting Sanctions is an Aggravated National Betrayal!
On the June 5, the European External Action Service (EEAS) published a promotional video on Twitter regarding EU sanctions against Syria, in which it claims that the EU sanctions were “designed in a way… avoiding negative impact on the population.”
The EEAS, which has been completely paralyzed for several months and unable to take one unified position other than continuing the imposition of sanctions on Syria, explains in its promotional segment that the European Union targeted “273 individuals and 70 entities… [and] most Syrians know who they are and what they did.”
Circulating the video in light of the catastrophic and accelerating decline of the standard of living of more than 20 million Syrians living on Syrian territories in the different regions, suggests that it is a European attempt to exonerate itself the disastrous effects of the sanctions. Moreover, its release days before the new US sanctions package under the Caesar Act enters into force, appears on the one hand to differentiate and distance itself from the effects of the Caesar Act; but on the other hand, at the same time, comes in support of the Caesar Act by trying to justify the general rationale of the sanctions mechanism – that is, by saying that they target specific individuals and entities, and avoid affecting the people.
Yes, We Know Them Well!
The aforementioned video clarifies that the punished individuals “are banned from travelling to the EU [and] their money and their assets in EU bank accounts have been frozen.”
These sanctions, and Western sanctions in general, include a list of names, among them names that are well-known for corruption and domination. Syrians certainly know these names well, and much better than the EU knows them, because they see day after day how their obscene wealth and violent domination increase. Syrians also see how sanctions themselves turn into a gold mine that inflates the margins of plundering and theft through import, brokerage, and money transfers, as we will explain hereinafter.
However, first, it should be noted that being convinced the big corruptors in Syria will be harmed from freezing their assets requires a great amount of naivety. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars plundered from Syria through consecutive decades, are not deposited abroad under the real names of the plunderers, but rather are within very complex networks of offshore accounts and through other fronts and fronts to the fronts, and other means of financial fraud. Furthermore, accounts with real names may not exceed “tourism pocket money” of the big corruptors, that is, tens of millions of dollars. Though no one should conclude that we are bothered by the freezing of that “pocket money”, as freezing it now may allow Syrians to recover it later, if European banks do not steal it, as it has done in similar cases.
As for preventing these individuals from traveling to the EU, it is a truly sad matter if whose lose one of their tourism destinations.
European Banks as “Philanthropists”!
Sanctions against entities include freezing their assets, as well as preventing them from entering into commercial deals with Europe. Among those entities, for example, are the official Syrian banks, but because European banks are kind-hearted, if those entities want to import food or medicines, they do not prevent them from doing so.
However, in order to ensure that the money will be spent on that permitted type of merchandise, European banks enter the deal as an intermediary and observer in any purchase of food or medicine, and even control the choice of the purchase source and the price. This is done in cooperation and sharing with local intermediaries (these in many cases are merely fronts for bigger corruptors “covered by sanctions”). In this manner, fuel, for example, was imported to Syria this year at a price three times the global price (for more details, look at Gasoline imported to Syria is 3 Times the Global Price: “Sanctions’ Profit” Could Reach $920 Million Annually! (Arabic), Kassioun, issue # 965). This sanctions’ profit is shared between Syrian importers and the regional and international banks as “risk” guarantees, and as brokerage and commissions. Who are these importers? Do we know them? Yes, we know them very well.
Among the examples that feed into the same plundering mill (which Kassioun has provided studies on in previous issues), we can mention the example of wheat (Arabic) where importers’ profit margin increases by 53-74%, and the example of sugar, rice, tea and poultry fodder: corn and soybeans (Arabic), whose profits have in some cases reached up to 500%.
An important part of these profits relates to two issues. The first is that monopolization has grown steadily in light of the sanctions that narrow the natural outlets and open the door to greater extent of controlling the internal market, and it can be said that the major importers have swallowed the market and the people.
The second issue that reinforced the first and even played a decisive role therein is the import financing mechanism, where the Syrian Central Bank provided facilitations for importers of basic materials (the large ones among whom are now under five) by providing them with dollars at a price of 438 Syrian pounds to the dollar (Arabic) when the exchange rate was around 1350 Syrian pounds to the dollar (which reached on Sunday 7 June by 2 pm 2600 SYP to the dollar on the black market). That is, an extra huge profit is collected from the difference between what the importer pays as a price for the dollar and the price of the “subsidized” sale in the Syrian market, which does not need to exceed the international price in order to achieve astronomical profits, but he does so with several goods, including fuel as we noted hereinabove.
Since the Syrian Central Bank, as well as European banks, is a philanthropist as well, so it chooses who of the importers gets the low dollar exchange rate and who does not. Do we know who are the favored ones? Yes, we know them very well. Do European governments not know this? Yes, without a doubt, as they are philanthropist and effective governments, and also good-hearted.
Prohibiting Money Transfers
Wire transfers by Syrian expatriates, displaced persons, and refugees to their families at home are another aspect of the sanctions that deserves to be examined. Among punitive measures are tighter controls and narrowing channels for wire transfers. This allows the authorities in Syria to pass wire transfers from expatriates (or a significant part thereof) through specific channels that compel them to receive the wire transfers at exchange rates much lower than the price on the black market. The rate of receiving wire transfers has been fixed at 700 Syrian pounds to the dollar while the exchange rate has now reached 2675 SYP (this changed during the writing of this article), which means that if the price at 700 SYP to the dollar remains, then Syrian families who rely on wire transfers between 50 and 200 dollars per month in order to merely secure their basic food needs, they will lose up to 74% of the actual value of these wire transfers, and will fall below the level of absolute poverty reaching starvation, something that many Syrian families have already reached.
Where do these plundered differences go? Do we know? Yes, we know very well.
Supporting Sanctions is National Betrayal!
The concrete, and even lethal, facts demonstrate that the sanctions did not achieve any of their stated goals. On the contrary, they increased the wealth of the big corruptors in an obscene way. These corruptors are still insisting on Europe as a primary trading partner and on the dollar and the euro as a trading currency, despite the existence of alternatives, because none of the alternatives is not as generous as the EU’s generosity with them.
The facts also prove that the “punishers of the West” and in cooperation therewith, have deepened the tragedy of the Syrian people and deepened their already deep wounds.
The approval and support by any Syrian of Western sanctions or the Caesar Act, in addition to being biased in favor of the great corruptors against the interest of the Syrian people, it is also an aggravated national betrayal, whatever lies and excuses are used to cover that betrayal.