Syria: US economic sanctions have little impact
Syrians brushed aside the significance of economic sanctions imposed by Washington, but some worried Tuesday about the long-term political ramifications of an escalating confrontation with the United States.
President George W. Bush banned all US exports to Syria except for food and medicine and banned flights between the two nations after long-standing complaints the Middle Eastern nation was supporting "terrorism and undermining US efforts in Iraq".
Trade between the two countries is valued at about $300 million. There currently are no flights between them.
For his part, Ahmed Haj Ali, media adviser to the Syrian information minister, said the sanctions will have little economic impact "but their political effects are much bigger."
"In the international atmosphere today of open borders and international agreements, it appears that sanctions could cause problems for both sides," he told The AP.
Trade and political negotiations between Damascus and the European Union [EU] could be further affected by American pressure, Haj Ali said. The negotiations have been delayed for several months because of concerns by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands about Syria's alleged "weapons of mass destruction".
Haj Ali stressed that Syria was still committed to dialogue with the United States.
The sanctions also include authorizing the US Treasury Department to freeze assets of Syrian nationals and entities involved in "terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, the occupation of Lebanon and terrorism in Iraq", and restricting transactions between US banks and the Syrian national bank.
The sanctions were expected for weeks but apparently were delayed by the upsurge of violence in neighboring Iraq. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)