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Why Can't Syria Function as a Normal State?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

After many attacks on US outposts and US airstrikes in the nation, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said once again that President Joe Biden is committed to staying in Syria.

"The mission and ISIS are not going to alter," the speaker said on Face the Nation with CBS News. "That's true. President Biden is committed to keeping US forces in Syria. Absolutely.”

While Kirby claims that the American mission in Syria is focused on battling ISIS, the US goal to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration is also a factor. The occupation of Syria's eastern region, which gives the US control over the majority of its oil resources, is opposed by the Syrian government. The US continues to impose devastating economic sanctions on Syria in addition to the occupation.

The recent bombings serve as a reminder of how the US occupation always runs the risk of starting a bigger war. The drone assault on a US site in eastern Syria that killed a US contractor and injured five American soldiers marked the beginning of the escalation.

The truth is that the use of unilateral coercive measures in Syria is against international law. According to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Syria is still the subject of these unilateral coercive actions, which hinder the full fulfilment of the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights documents.

Realizing which state is the source nation that continues to use such coercive tactics against the Syrian people and government does not require a strategic move. A trade embargo on the import and export of several goods and services is being demanded by the US and its collective actions. Moreover, it forbids cross-border money transfers.

There have also been additional actions taken against people and organisations because of their claimed connections to the government. These measures have a disastrous effect on the overall economy as well as the daily lives of common people due to their comprehensive nature.

It is obvious that the pain brought on by the US has increased the pain brought on by the conflict. And it seems ironic that these actions taken by the US in the name of a purported "war on ISIS" are really making the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe worse.

Syrians' ability to exercise their economic, social and cultural rights has been negatively impacted by the intentional harm to the economy. All of the country’s human development metrics have fallen and the percentage of people living in poverty has increased dramatically. The ability of anyone wishing to conduct business overseas has been severely harmed by restrictions on the Central Bank, state-owned and private institutions, and transactions in the major international currencies.

The UNHRC claims that this market unpredictability has had a "chilling effect" on foreign banks and businesses, which has made them unwilling or unable to conduct business with Syria. In consequence, it is now impossible for Syrian and foreign businesses, NGOs and Syrian nationals to conduct international financial transactions, receive credit, or pay salaries and contracts.

The global civil society needs to take notice of this. As long as the US occupation and unilateral coercive actions exist and add to the continued agony of the Syrian people, Syria cannot and will not be able to function as a normal state. Arguments that they exist to safeguard the Syrian populace or "to fight ISIS” are difficult to square with the resulting hardships on a financial and humanitarian level.


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