DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Syrians say they are feeling the pressure of economic sanctions in the form of rejected credit cards and blocked money transfers.
"This is not the solution," the owner of a handicraft business who was unable to transfer money to suppliers in Lebanon told The New York Times.
Turkey, the Arab League, the European Union and the United States have all imposed sanctions on Syria to pressure President Bashar Assad to step down from office and end violence in the country.
"Up until the last minute, I did not believe the Arab League would take such a decision," Mohammed Ghassan al-Qallaa, the president of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce, told the Times. "It was like a poke in the eye."
Trade and investment activity has decreased by 50 percent, the newspaper said, and unemployment is 22 percent.
Hotel managers have reported occupancy rates of 15 percent or lower, and many restaurants have gone broke.
"We are still keeping the lights on and trying to remain cutting edge," said Four Seasons manager Sven Wiedenhaupt.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem denounced the sanctions, saying Syrians will overcome them.
"We have no fear that people will starve or freeze," al-Moallem said. "They will affect the citizens without any doubt, but our people are used to such pressures."