Sanctions take toll on Syrian people

April 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, April 25 (UPI) -- Declining cash reserves have forced the Syrian government to stop providing education, healthcare and other key services in parts of the country, observers say.

With sanctions taking their toll, intelligence officials and financial analysts say, the Syrian government has also sought more help from Iran to bolster its currency, The Washington Post reported.

At the same time, revenue from Syrian oil has fallen steeply, as nations including China and India now refuse to accept Syrian oil.

But while sanctions and trade embargoes raise food and fuel prices for the 20 million residents of Syria, President Bashar Assad and his inner circle have been shielded from the effects, U.S. And Middle Eastern analysts and financial experts told the Post. Assad's regime likely could retain power for at least several months by relying on his reserves and black-market income, sources told the Post.

On Monday, the European Union approved measures forbidding sale of luxury goods to Syria while the Obama administration ordered sanctions against individuals or firms that provide Assad with surveillance equipment and other technology used to silence dissent, the Post said.

More than a dozen rounds of sanctions have been put in place in response to the Assad regime's crackdown on protesters since the uprising began in March 2011. More sanctions are expected when representatives of up to 75 countries meet in Washington on ways to cut remaining revenue streams to Syria.

The sanctions are "undermining the financial lifeline of the regime," reducing government income by nearly a third, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told U.S. legislators last week.

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