STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The United States has imposed new financial sanctions on Syria. Reports say the White House is edging ever so close to call for the president there, Bashar al-Assad, to resign. Now that’s after Syrian security forces used violent crackdowns against protesters who were revolting Assad’s authoritarian rule.
Angus Blair is head of research and corporate strategy for Beltone Financial — he’s covered business in the Middle East, including Syria, for more than 18 years. Good morning.
ANGUS BLAIR: Hello.
CHIOTAKIS: How will the latest U.S. moves put pressure on President Assad and the Syrian economy?
BLAIR: Sanctions, so far, have had minimal effect, basically because this uprising that’s been taking place has been a few months in the making. The government itself has been quite badly hit from internal displacement of capital — most people have stopped spending, and moving about the country. So, at the moment those sanctions are limited.
CHIOTAKIS: Assad, I know, uses his stranglehold on the economy to hold onto power — I mean, do you think economic pressure will break his authority there?
BLAIR: No, the breakage of his authority will come from within Syria itself. And that will happen from whatever happens across the country in terms of people saying enough is enough.
CHIOTAKIS: I know Angus, the U.S. has sanctions against other economies and other national banks — does it seem to work?
BLAIR: Not really. Not these days. I think the issue is whenever there is an uprising against leaders, people want to be able to do this on their own. Because then people can say whatever happens, it’s up to nationals to have that answer, rather than those international interventions.
CHIOTAKIS: Angus Blair from Beltone Financial. Thank you, very much.
BLAIR: Thank you.
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