July 6, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 739

Syrian Economist Ridicules Decision to Impose Economic Sanctions Against The U.S.

July 6, 2004
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 739

In late June 2004, the Syrian People's Council approved a decision to call on the Syrian government to respond to the U.S. sanctions on Syria that began the previous month by banning activity by U.S. oil companies in Syria. A member of the Syrian Economic Center, Nidhal Ma'louf, wrote a critical article that was cited in the Syrian on-line independent newspaperChampress The following is the article [1]

"Someone is acting to represent our institutions across the world as if [these institutions] are acting out of confusion and are incapable of understanding and working to obtain their interests. Unfortunately, we find that today we are shifting from a policy of shortsightedness to one of total blindness.

"It is also sad that many of those who influence the fateful decisions think that there is a solution other than arriving at mutual understanding with the U.S. We cannot behave in accordance with our likes and hates; rather, we [must] safeguard our interests and ward off the dangers threatening us – even if we hate what we are doing…

"What does the People's Council want to show? That the Syrian people does not like the U.S.? And if this be so, call upon this people to go out into the streets, burn American flags, fall upon the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, and hold sit-down strikes and demonstrations!

"It is completely illogical to pass a law expressing a government policy that will lead to nothing but damage to the interests of the people, in the name of the people. The Syrian people have chosen its representatives with the thought that they are capable of defending its interests and of participating in running affairs of state in a way that will benefit the homeland and citizens. However, what the People's Council is doing today is damaging the interests of the people and pushing it down a dark path whose end is known to all.

"It can be said that this is the will of the people, and that it must be put into action and be brought about by means of a law to punish the U.S. for its actions. But the people also want cars: Why not pass a law to ensure that the government gives a car to every citizen? If such a law – which expresses a popular desire – is indeed passed, can it be implemented? We have not managed to lower the imaginary quotas on auto imports by even a single percent for decades, [not even] in accordance with the will of the people.

"What will the law [banning U.S. oil company activity in Syria] include? A boycott on U.S. goods that the U.S. [has already] decided not to export to us? Will we stop our huge investments [in the U.S.] and the flow of our modern technology [to there]? Will we prevent its citizens from immigrating to Syria? Will we freeze [U.S.] investments in our banks across the globe, and will we pressure our allies to increase the stranglehold on [the U.S.]? Will we accuse it of money-laundering and blacklist its banks?…

"If you want to hint at sanctions against the U.S., you must first of all be capable [of implementing them]. Today we must strengthen our ranks so as to defend ourselves from the actual dangers threatening us. We are not in a position that enables us to attack.

"We ask those who are experts in 'much ado about nothing' not to market their fine services abroad, as they will only bring laughter – and our situation does not allow for joking around."

[1] June 29, 2004. A notice on the site on July 4, 2004 stated: "During the weekend of July 2-3, 2004, the site was hacked by pirates and the entire archive was deleted. There is currently no access to previous issues."

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