Last week, Syria’s currency lost nearly a third of its value, the latest blow to an economy damaged by years of sanctions and war. In an email interview, Samer Abboud, an assistant professor at Arcadia University who has researched Syria’s political economy, explained the sanctions against Syria and the sectors most deeply affected by them.
WPR: What is the state of the sanctions regime on Syria, in terms of measures existing before the war began and those enacted since?
Samer Abboud: The U.S. sanctions prior to the conflict were mostly symbolic and had limited material impact on the economy. After the revolution began, the U.S. expanded its sanctions, and Turkey, the European Union and the Arab League imposed wide-ranging sanctions against regime security and political figures, public sector institutions and private companies owned by regime-affiliated figures, targeting all major sectors of the economy. Since Syria’s economy was oriented toward these regional blocs, their sanctions have had a more significant impact than U.S. sanctions. Russian and Chinese support at the United Nations Security Council has allowed Syria to avoid international sanctions and continue to trade with friendly countries, but this has not compensated for the tremendous loss incurred from protracted fighting and sanctions.