The Syrian economy is being crippled by foreign sanctions and the government is “slowly disintegrating” under anti-regime protests, a leading Syrian businessman told the BBC on Sunday.
Faisal al-Qudsi, the son of a former Syrian president who was heavily involved in the country’s economic liberalization, said sanctions were affecting the entire country, not just President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“The apparatus of the government is slowly disintegrating and it’s almost non-existent in trouble spots like Homs, Idlib, Deraa,” he told the BBC World Service in London.
“Courts are not there, police are not interested in any sort of crime and it is affecting the government very, very badly, every day it continues.”
Qudsi said Iran was sending “quite a lot of cash” to support Syria through Iraq, but it was not enough, adding that most of the top businessmen he knew had left because of fears for their safety.
“Since April tourism has stopped, and that’s about 15 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). Since November the oil exports have stopped and that’s another 30 percent of GDP that’s gone,” he said.
“With the sanctions on exporting goods and products from Syria to the rest of the world, Syrian products can only be exported to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
“So, effectively the foreign exchange reserves of the central bank have come down from $22 billion (16.7 billion euros) to about $10 billion and it is dwindling very rapidly.”
The European Union has imposed oil and arms embargoes against Syria in response to a crackdown that has left more than 6,000 people dead, according to rights groups, and is currently planning a new set of restrictions.
The United States and Canada have also imposed sanctions, while Arab nations have banned transactions with the Syrian government and central bank and frozen Syrian government assets in Arab countries.