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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 historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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