The hard sanctions imposed on Syria by the United States and the European Union are taking their toll on the population. Signs of anger against foreign interference can be observed as a new conflict has emerged. Not a military one per se, but an economical one. 20 December last year in Damascus was a reason for celebration. The Americans have just announced that the 2000 soldiers, who support the Kurds, will leave Syria, but 1 January 2019 brought with itself a set of new problems and challenges, as the European Union has just extended its sanctions.
Not too long beforehand, the US Congress extended its sanctions to non-US citizens who want to trade with Syria. Everything changed radically after the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompey, visited the Middle East in January. Representatives of the Arab countries with whom Syria maintains close relations have told Damascus that Pompeo has issued an ultimatum on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, meaning no restoration of diplomatic relations with Syria, no return of the country to the League of Arab States, and no to the allocation of resources for the state’s recovery.
Meanwhile, the Syrians, tired of the eight years of war and sacrifice, suffer from gas shortages and skyrocketing food prices. According to Samir Madani, a representative of Tankerstrackers, which monitors the movement of Iranian ships in the Mediterranean, the last Iranian tanker, carrying 920,000 barrels of oil, arrived in the Syrian port of Baniyas on 1 January. If Iran continues to supply Syrian allies with oil every month, Americans would make it impossible for Iranians to access the Syrian coast.
The criticism of the Assad’s government on social networks has also expanded. Bashir Assad is accused particularly of corruption, an emergence of a new military elite but, above all, of a poor organization of securing gas for his population, which now forces people to stand in line for hours and hours to buy this precious commodity. The Syrian authorities have no answers, except for allegations that everything is organized by foreign governments and organizations, as was reported by French Le Figaro. The fact is that this new task of achieving lasting peace and some sort of economic stability, which Bashir Assad has to face, is just as difficult as a victory over his enemies in the war.