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Syria is preparing for economic collapse because the US issued new sanctions on Assad



Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma vote in Damascus during parliamentary elections in April 2016.

On Wednesday, the State Department and the US Treasury released 39 targets for sanctions, including Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad, marking “the beginning of what will be an ongoing campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime’s income and support it being used to fight and committed mass atrocities against the Syrian people, “Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We anticipate more sanctions and we will not stop until Assad and his regime stop the unnecessary brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government approves a political solution to the conflict as requested by UNSCR 2254,” he said, referring to UN Security Council Resolutions calling for ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

The first stage of economic punishment comes as part of the new enactment Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which is expected to trigger the most extensive and aggressive economic punishment ever imposed on Syria, which has the potential to target its energy, construction and banking sectors. The bill was named after a former photographer for the Syrian military, codenamed Caesar, who leaked a photograph containing photographs showing prisoners dead and mutilated in Assad prison.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the Security Council on Tuesday that the move was an attempt to “prevent the Assad regime from securing military victory, and to steer the regime and its allies back to the Special Envoy (Geir) Pedersen and the UN-led political process. ”

China and Russia criticized the plan on Tuesday. Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun called the sanctions “inhuman.” Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia accused Washington of trying to “overthrow Syria’s legitimate authority,” according to Reuters.

The Caesar Act, a bipartisan Congressional law, has received widespread support from the Syrian diaspora community, many of whom were pushed into exile by Assad’s brutal repression of most peaceful protests that began in 2011. Assad has repeatedly been accused of war crimes and crimes towards humanity. in his military campaign to crush Syrian armed opposition. He is also widely believed to be behind various chemical attacks in rebel-held areas. The Assad government has repeatedly denied the allegations.

But even among the Syrian opposition, many hope that US sanctions will also give a severe blow to the Syrian civilian population. The poverty rate reaches more than 80%, according to the United Nations. The Syrian currency has fallen rapidly in recent months due to the economic crisis in Lebanon, where many Syrian businessmen avoided international sanctions during the war. Most of Syria lies in ruins.

“The (Syrian) economy has become something similar to the West Bank economy, an economy that relies on aid,” Syrian analyst and non-resident scholar at the DC-based Middle East Institute Karam Shaar told CNN. “This is not really a functional economy. Basically something that survives only because the West continues to inject money into it.”

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US sanctions threatened to cut cash injections from donations and remittances that kept the country afloat. Because the Caesar Act includes secondary sanctions – punishing non-US people and entities for transactions with the regime-held Syria – they are likely to create “phobias” and “panic from banks” around dealing with Syria, Shaar said, strangling financial transactions to country.

He also warned that humanitarian exceptions to food and medicine included in the Caesar Act might not have an effect, a situation that would be similar to Iran, which also has struggling to get drug supplies despite US relief.

“When you have actions that destroy a country’s exchange rate – and you know that 60% of the input to the pharmaceutical industry is actually imported – you influence drugs,” Shaar said. “The Caesar Act will affect everything.”

“Unless the Syrian regime accepts to negotiate, I project famine and it will be terrible.”

The knock-on effect of sanctions’ on neighboring Lebanon is also expected further crippling a collapsing economy. The Lebanese banking sector, which has been buckled under a severe liquidity crisis, is believed to have billions of dollars worth of Syrian assets. Therefore, the international financial system might immediately assume that Lebanese banks are untouched, Shaar said.

Tensions in Lebanon have reached a peak in recent weeks, as the currency continues to spread, triggering riots across the country. On Tuesday night, the leader of Iranian-backed political and militant group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, gave a fiery televized speech that vowed to sustain Syria economically and called on Lebanon to reject US pressure to abide by the Caesar Law.

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Nasrallah also accused the Trump administration of “encircling” the Lebanese economy in an effort to suppress Hezbollah, and suggested that the country could move deeper into the economic orbits of Iran, Syria and China, removing US influence.

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Lebanon’s political formation consists of a group of pro-US and pro-Iranian politicians. Hezbollah, which intervened in the Syrian war on behalf of Assad, is the most powerful political force in Lebanon.

The United States has repeatedly said that it supports Lebanese political leadership reforms that are highly sectarian and eradicate corruption, and have not publicly announced economic support for Lebanon for the disarmament of Hezbollah. But local media and politicians speculate that the international community has avoided the country as part of an international effort to displace the armed group.

“(The Lebanese government must) show that they are willing to take difficult decisions to reform,” said Assistant Secretary of Near East Affairs David Schenker at a lecture at the Middle East Institute earlier this month. “It’s hard to see how (Hezbollah) will be behind this reform.”

When Assad and his allies doubled their anti-US stance, there were several signs the Syrian government intended to return to the negotiating table, and analysts warned that the Caesar Act would do little to hold Assad responsible for his crimes.

“Caesar’s supporters hope that the law will prove a step towards accountability for the regime’s horrific crimes,” Syrian Program Director in the Synaps Group Alex Simon told CNN. “While that goal cannot be denied, there is no evidence to suggest that Caesar will achieve this.”

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Simon described the sanctions as “a piecemeal policy, reflexive escalation, where ordinary Syrians pay the price.”

“People currently sell the few assets they still have to feed their families. Some sell their kidneys,” Simon said. “The pharmaceutical shortage is so bad that people have been brought to Facebook to gather information about who has a backup drug that can help save lives.”

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Portuguese government highly appreciates the priorities of the Czech Presidency of the European Union – Observer



Portuguese government highly appreciates the priorities of the Czech Presidency of the European Union - Observer

The Secretary of State for European Affairs this Wednesday expressed full agreement with the five political priorities identified by the upcoming Czech Presidency of the European Council, highlighting issues of support for Ukraine and the energy transition.

The priorities of the Czech presidency will eventually become the priorities of the Portuguese government for the next six months. We hope that the Assembly of the Republic will follow this path,” said Thiago Antunes at the opening of the parliamentary debate on the priorities of the Czech presidency.

The Secretary of State for European Affairs began by setting the priorities of the executive branch in Prague for the second half of this year: managing the refugee crisis and the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, energy security, strengthening European defense and cyber security, the strategic sustainability of the European economy, and the resilience of the democratic institutions of the European Union.

According to a member of the Portuguese government, the first priority is continued military assistance, humanitarian and financial to Ukraine“with the application of sanctions against Russia and its allies.”


“The European Union is facing the biggest wave of refugees since the Second World War, and the Czech Presidency proposes to mobilize and coordinate all the necessary resources for the reception and integration,” especially of children, he said.

Speaking about energy security, Thiago Antunes mentioned “the difficult but fast path that the European Union has already covered in a short period of time.”

“The war in Ukraine has demonstrated that the European Union cannot depend on Russia for energy supply, and the mission of the Czech Presidency will now be to achieve progressive and rapid autonomization and modernization in the energy sector. Portugal has all the conditions to become a central player in the energy transition,” says the European Affairs portfolio holder.

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In his opening remarks, Thiago Antunes also mentioned the goals of the Czech Republic to strengthen European defense, namely through partnership with the Atlantic Alliance, in which he highlighted the issue of cyber security in preventing attacks.

The Secretary of State for European Affairs then spoke. “European problem of vulnerability” in the face of global supply chainscontrasting with the need for reindustrialization, and highlighted the “disturbing reality of inflation in all Member States”.

Regarding the sustainability of democratic institutions in the European Union, the fifth goal of the Prague government, Thiago Antunes noted that this is the least related priority to the war in Ukraine.

“But this will certainly be one of the most frequent topics in European debates in the near future,” he added.

During the debate, PSD MP Sergio Marques accused the Portuguese government of adopting a position of “restraint and reluctance, almost opposition to granting Ukraine candidate status, changing its position only at the last minute so as not to be speaking in private.”

Then Andre Ventura, the leader of Chega, accused the PS of “failing to decide” on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.

PS MP Kapulas Santos said his party “could not disagree with the priorities of the Czech presidency” but wondered if the “European Union” would survive the impact of the new enlargement.

In turn, MP Bernardo Blanco from the Liberal Initiative said that regarding the priorities of the Czech presidency, the party “fully agrees with the first priority regarding Ukraine”, but refused to depend “on countries that pose a great geopolitical risk.” .”, such as Russia or China.

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Communist Diana Ferreira believed that “the goals that are adopted in this presidency in matters of energy or energy security are to protect the interests of big capital” and believed that “solving these problems is not at all a priority.”

Mariana Mortagua of BE asked for flexibility in the entry of refugees into the European Union, as happened with Ukrainians, criticizing the “absolute hypocrisy of double ‘standards'”.

In the same vein, PAN sole deputy Inés Souza Real refused to allow the European Union to treat people fleeing war “as first and second class refugees”, while Livre’s sole deputy Ruy Tavares questioned whether the Portuguese government would support a joint refugee resettlement program in the European Union.”

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PAN wants to abolish fees for teaching Portuguese abroad



PAN wants to abolish fees for teaching Portuguese abroad

O PAN has submitted a draft to Parliament to stop collecting tuition/entry fees for young Portuguese and descendants of Portuguese who attend or will attend Portuguese language teaching abroad.

The diploma, which was presented this Wednesday to the Assembly of the Republic, refers to a petition signed by 4,524 people that was delivered to Parliament in the previous legislature. Petition titled “Portuguese for all! Concerning the right of our children and young people to study Portuguese abroad, it proposes to “protect and strengthen the teaching of Portuguese among children and young people of Portuguese and Portuguese living abroad”.

PAN understands that the formal learning of the Portuguese language by Portuguese children and young people living abroad is “more than the right of these children and young people, is the responsibility of the state” and is a way to ensure the continuity of “Portuguese across borders”.

“Petition No. 168/XIV/2.ª gives the Assembly of the Republic the opportunity to review the state of the official network of teaching Portuguese abroad for the Portuguese and the descendants of the Portuguese, as well as to consider its problems and the causes of these problems. “, – says PAN.

The party, led by Inés Sousa Real, warns of “a small number of students studying Portuguese abroad” and justifies this fact with “mandatory attendance rates applicable to all students”.

“Currently, the school has about 20,000 students, which is a third of what it was in 2008. This situation is largely justified by the fact that in the 2012/2013 academic year there was a mandatory attendance rate for all students, which meant revenge on the idea that there are constitutional rights for the Portuguese community abroad, but they can only be exercised if they are paid, which is regrettable,” the document says.

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PAN also reports that even during the pandemic, students had to continue paying tuition fees “despite being unable to attend remote classes due to a lack of necessary resources.”

“In the previous legislature, the PAN at the headquarters of the Education Commission requested the Minister of Education for the designation of the revenues generated from the collection of tuition fees, but never received a clear answer,” the party points out, also mentioning that he had already submitted a draft resolution about the abolition of tuition/registration fees for these young people who are “only not moving forward due to the dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic”.

“As part of this initiative, PAN, in an effort to address this clearly defined problem, is proposing to abolish tuition fees for all Portuguese and Portuguese young people who attend or will attend Portuguese language teaching, from January 1, 2023, as this makes no sense in constitutional law payable, and that students have to pay for what is already funded by the Portuguese state,” the document says.

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What Makes Professional AV Solutions the Top Priority in Business Meetings



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