The US sent “experts” to help civilians build administrative structures. Comparable assistance to the part of the country controlled by the Syrian government and considered by the people living there to be exempt from war was not offered, in line with the “EU Strategy on Syria 2017” mentioned above [in part one –tr.]
War economy – economic war
In Syria, one sees the direct link between the sanctions and the “aid” distributed through UN and international organizations in the country and in the refugee camps around Syria.
“Why are we prevented from rebuilding our country after the war?” said business people the author met in Aleppo in April.
“Why are we prevented from buying spare parts for our destroyed machines, introducing machines, tools, raw materials ?!”
Syria has experienced engineers who could build houses, companies that could produce power lines, cables. “One has willfully destroyed and stolen our factories and machines,” continued a businessman, referring to the looting of the 17 industrial zones in and around Aleppo by the “Free Syrian Army” in 2012 and 2013.”
Instead of having the country rebuilt, we’re sending relief organizations to keep people in shelters and tents, from hand to mouth, and just enough to avoid dying. “We can rebuild everything: houses, factories, hospitals. We can give people work. But you will not let that happen!
“Anger and misunderstanding about EU sanctions can be heard throughout the country. “Why do not tourists come to Syria?” asks a young hotel owner, who during the war was considered a religious opponent. “The war is almost over, we have invested, new lamps, phones mounted, carpets laid, painted, new bed linen and towels bought, but nobody comes from Europe. Why?”
He is surprised to hear that airlines from Europe are not allowed to fly to Syria and insurance companies can not insure travel groups because of EU sanctions. “And why are you doing that?” He asks in disbelief. “Because they do not like the president? But they hit us, the middle class, the little people.”
In Aleppo, the cars stand in long lines two to three lanes in front of the gas stations and wait for gasoline. The US administration further tightened the already existing oil embargo in March 2019 (5). This not only affects Syria, but also Iran, which has been supplying oil and gas to Syria for years because the Syrian government is denied access to national energy resources east of the Euphrates.
First it was the “moderate rebels” of the “Free Syrian Army” who occupied the oil fields. The EU lifted the oil embargo imposed on Syria in 2011 for these groups so they could even sell Syrian oil as far as Turkey. The “Free Syrian Army” was followed by the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”, which was finally expelled by the Syrian Kurds with the support of the US-led “anti-IS alliance.”
To cover the internal Syrian needs with oil and gas needed for cooking, the government in Damascus agreed to trade. Businessmen bought oil from the respective occupiers (Free Syrian Army, IS, Kurds) and then resold it to the government. As a result, the Syrian opposition abroad accused Damascus of cooperating with “IS.”
Because foreign journalists in Syria are treated preferentially at petrol stations, the author herself was able to watch the crowds later in the evening. To prevent corruption and disputes, the distribution of gasoline rations is monitored by representatives of the city council of Aleppo: 20 liters every 5 days per car, per taxi 20 liters every 2 days at the government-subsidized liter price of 0.50 US-cents –
“Take a close look and report,” said Vice Governor Mohammad Hamoush, who personally controlled the gas station that evening. “We owe this to the sanctions of the US and the governments in Europe.”
Destruction of society
Sanctions drive the black market, and outside the cities along the major roads, boys sit next to cans and sell gas at a dizzying price of nearly $ 1.50 per liter.
In Damascus, the sale of petrol at this high price is officially approved by the government for the first time, an “exceptional case in an exceptional situation.”
Business people are given permission to buy oil and gas and sell it in Syria, as they can.
The goal of the sanctions and oil embargoes is the weakening and division of Syria by the West. To cushion the suffering – because otherwise more refugees could come to Europe – help is distributed to the needy, in Syria and in the refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Support for the return is – although the Federal Government promotes them in isolated instances – is politically not provided.
“They bring people out of their homes and put them in tents,” a critic summarizes the humanitarian engagement of UN and private international actors. The opposition politician Mouna Ghanem criticized the camps: “They turn people into petitioners,” criticized in 2012. “People have no work, they get used to being provided with relief supplies.”
In rural areas, in remote villages, there has always been orderly organization, says a businesswoman in Damascus who had employed women in rural areas of Idlib, Rakka and the Aleppo countryside for decades for textile work.
“When there was a dispute among the residents, a Mukhtar (mayor) was chosen, who was elected and respected by all.” The people were poor, but they had dignity, she recalls. The work gave women self-confidence. “Now people sit in camps, neglected in shelters.” Traditional structures would be destroyed, and instead of Mukhtars, people who landed a job with the international organizations.