I had a discussion the other day with a friend on wars and the double standards of the media and political elites, depending on who is waging the war and who is the victim. As a Syrian, my initial position was: I condemn killing innocent civilians in Ukraine but I expect similar sympathy for the victims of the Syrian war. Half a million people died in the course of the US regime-change war on Syria where the CIA spent one billion dollars to train, arm and finance Islamist terror groups after rebranding them to “moderate rebels”.
When the CIA’s covert operation failed in Syria, the US and the EU waged economic warfare against the country to strangle the Syrian people for resisting the imperialist destructive project. Unsurprisingly though, Washington and Brussels called the unilateral coercive measures “targeted sanctions”. But targeted against who?
On 31th of May, the EU extended the sanctions on Syria claiming that the measures were necessary due to the “continued repression of the civilian population in the country.” When you ask EU officials, they claim sanctions do not target the Syrian people. But is that really the case?
Although these sanctions provide a range of exceptions related to personal financial transfers, food, medicine, medical equipment, funds and services related to humanitarian efforts, the reality is otherwise.
Because ensuring the compatibility of international banks with sanction requirements has restricted the financial and commercial transactions of international financial institutions with everything related to Syria or any Syrian individual or institution, and this has led to extremely severe difficulties in securing the basic needs of the Syrian people.
Don’t you believe me? Okay, go to PayPal and send 5 dollars to your friend or family member and write “Syria” in the note and see what happens. Your transaction will either be blocked or you’ll be questioned by PayPal.
Additionally, the US and the EU have imposed strict restrictions on sensitive sectors such as electric power, sewage stations, road networks and a lot of wide social services. Consequently, securing oil derivatives and spare parts for power stations has become mission impossible.
Although sanctions have proven to only lead to impoverishment, starvation and disintegration of societies, and they never lead to a policy change of the targeted governments, let alone their collapse, I don’t see any outrage for the Syrian people because apparently, some lives are less important than others, especially when they come from an “uncivilized country”.
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Kevork Almassian is an award-winning political commentator from Syria. He is the founder of Syriana Analysis and is known for his contribution to the literature on the Syrian war.