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Syria: Reactions To UN Vote And Is EU About To Sanction Central Bank? – OpEd

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By Ehsani

The U.S. and the E.U. are still smarting from last night’s veto decision at the U.N.

The British Foreign Secretary had this to say at his party’s conference today:

“The decision of Russia and China to veto this resolution, and to side with a brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria, is deeply mistaken and regrettable. We will redouble our efforts to work with other nations to increase the pressure on the regime wherever we can, and we assure the people of Syria that they will not be forgotten”.

The German foreign minister issued this statement from Berlin:

“Germany will continue to push, both internationally and especially within the European Union, for a clear position and pressure on the Syrian regime.”

The Obama administration continued to admonish both Russia and China by saying that countries have to take responsibility for the votes on the council as well as any implications such votes may have on the ground.

Using his spokesman, the U.N. Secretary General also weighed in on the subject this way:

“The secretary general regrets that the UN Security Council has not been able to agree and he hopes that the council will overcome the division and find a collective way to address the situation,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

“He believes we have a moral obligation to prevent further bloodshed and help the people of Syria out of this crisis,” Nesirky said.

Countries that abstained from last night’s votes also had to hear this today:

“By abstaining, [Brazil, India, and South Africa] have not only failed the Syrian people, but [have] also failed to offer a credible alternative to end the bloodshed,” says Philippe Bolopion, UN director of Human Rights Watch in New York. “This vote erodes their credibility in the global arena and might come to define their tenure in the Security Council and undermine their claim to permanent membership.”

Predictably, the Syrian government “highly appreciated” the veto which “sent a message of trust from the Security Council to the people of the world in whose eyes international organizations have turned into tools of colonial hegemony for decades”.

Are new EU sanction on the way?

Having used and amended its sanctions against Syria seven times, it seems that the E.U. is preparing for number eight.

According to the Dow Jones newswires, EU diplomats said that there is a broad consensus among European Union member states in favor of adding Syria’s central bank to its sanctions list and the EU is also set to extend sanctions on close to 30 Iranians over human-rights abuses in that country.

The E.U. has already made the decision to ban the exporting of bank notes and Coins to Syria’s central bank. The new measure, if approved, would freeze any European-based Central-bank assets and could make it harder for Syria to get its hands on Foreign currency.

Back in August, the governor of the Syrian Central Bank said that US sanctions hаԁ “forced Syria to ѕtοр all transactions іn US dollars, аnԁ thе country hаԁ turned completely tο euro deals.” This came after аn executive order the week before ordered thе freezing οf аll Syrian state assets іn thе United States аnԁ forbade investment аnԁ exports tο thе country.

Since then, the Syrian commercial banks have held their mandatory reserves with the Central bank in Euros. If the E.U. sanctions the Syrian Central Bank, it would mean that the local commercial banks will not be able to hold their mandatory reserves in Euros either. Moreover, they will not be able to do any buying or selling of both Euros and Dollars from the Central Bank. It is worth noting that the Syrian Central Bank has not sold any foreign exchange to the local Banking system over the past few days. Following the lifting of the import suspension, importers can source foreign currency using their private accounts overseas or by going to the local black market. The current rate in this market is still stable at SYP 51.50 or so. It is unclear where the rate will settle in the weeks ahead once importers renew their appetite to stock up.

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Syria Comment - Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.

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