U.N. Human Rights Council condemns Syria

A woman walks past huge banner of President Bashar al-Assad hanging from the central bank building in the capital in Damascus on Feb. 28, 2012. The U.N. Human Rights Council voted today to condemn the Syrian government, saying the regime's attacks against its own citizens may amount to crimes against humanity.

Jeremy Hobson: The U.N. Human Rights Council voted today to condemn the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. The council says the regime's attacks against its own citizens may amount to crimes against humanity.

The resolution carries no legal weight, and so far, the international community's main weapon against Syria's government has been economic sanctions. Both the U.S. and the European Union currently ban the import of Syrian oil. But some countries, like Russia, continue to do business with Syria.

Samir Seifan is a Syrian economist who fled the country in August. He joins us now from Dubai. Good morning.

Samir Seifan: Good morning.

Hobson: Well first of all, there are a host of economic sanctions against Syria right now from both the U.S. and Europe. Are they doing anything?

Seifan: Yes, actually. Just for example, if you take the crude oil production -- which is very important to us for Syria -- last year it was 358,000 barrels per day, and now we're used to 220,000 barrels per day. There's no exports of crude oil, which means the revenue of this export has disappeared. There's not enough oil production to produce, to generate electricity for cars, for heating, and lastly, for normal life. So the impact is very, very tough actually.

Hobson: What do you expect to happen in Syria in the coming months? Do you think Assad is going to hold on to power?

Seifan: Actually, this depends on many factors -- it depends on Russia. If Russia is still supporting him, and the western countries start to intervene in Syria, we expect to finish the issue in two to three months. If the situation is still like this, the struggle will take one year. In this case, the country will lose a lot. The damage would be very, very high.

Hobson: Samir Seifan is a Syrian economist with the Orient Research Centre. Thanks so much for talking with us.

Seifan: Thank you to you too.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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