As the Syrian government emerges victorious from eight years of a battle against foreign-sponsored militancy, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country now also faces an economic war.
Speaking at a meeting with visiting Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodon and an accompanying delegation in Damascus, Assad said some hostile powers were waging the new war against Syria by resorting to such methods as “boycotts, withdrawal of ambassadors, economic siege, and the use of terrorism,” reported Syria’s official news agency SANA on Sunday.
The Syrian president underlined the importance of international efforts to counter terrorism and find a political solution to the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.
He noted that fighting terrorism will lead to a political solution in the end, but any talk of political solution to the Syrian crisis while terrorism spreads across the country would be an illusion and a deception.
Assad emphasised that fighting terrorism cannot simply be carried out via military action, but an even more important aspect of this war is to combat intellectual and ideological aspects of terrorism.
An armed conflict began in Syria in 2011. The Damascus government, aided by its allies Russia and Iran, managed to gradually retake almost all of the areas in the country from the militant and terrorist groups that had overtaken them, and the conflict is considered to be winding down.
But Washington has been imposing sanctions on hundreds of companies and individuals that it accuses of involvement in developing “chemical” munitions in Syria. This is while Damascus surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in a process monitored by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2013.
The European Union (EU) has also imposed an oil embargo on Syria, placed restrictions on certain forms of investment in the country, frozen the assets of the Syrian Central Bank across the bloc, and imposed bans on dozens of companies linked to Damascus. The EU voted last May in favor of extending the bans until June 1, 2019.
Syria’s mission to the UN earlier this year condemned the economic sanctions targeting the country, saying they blight the lives of ordinary Syrians.
“The unilateral, coercive measures imposed on the Syrian people represent an economic terrorism… [and] are largely affecting the lives of the Syrians and hindering the delivery of their daily basic needs,” the country’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari said on January 31.
During the meeting between Assad and the Chinese officials on Sunday, the two sides affirmed the need to bolster coordination between Beijing and Damascus in “political, military, economic, cultural, and technological” fields.
Chen hailed the resistance by the Syrian nation and voiced China’s readiness to keep standing by the Arab country and providing it with all forms of support.
In a separate meeting with Chen, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem also suggested that China play a role in rebuilding Syria.
Assad, who has estimated that rebuilding Syria would cost 200 billion dollars at a minimum, has insisted he would refuse to take Western contributions.
In an interview with Russia’s NTV network in June last year, the Syrian president said the West “won’t be part of reconstruction in Syria, because very simply we won’t allow them to be part of it, whether they come with money or not.”