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In the line of fire—Syrians at the grip of US sanctions

In the line of fire—Syrians at the grip of US sanctions

With their credit cards blocked, Syrian tourists and businessmen go au naturale with cold hard cash. Ah, sanctions as US intended.

August 29, 2011 1:50 by

There’s nothing like being in a foreign country without access to your money. And if you haven’t been through this kind of devil-may-care adventure, then you may look to what Syrian tourists and businessmen in the UAE. They now find themselves caught in the middle of US sanctions in Syria.

Syrians visiting the UAE, who carry Mastercard and Visa cards issued by Syrian banks, might as well use their cards as a doorstop, bookmark or even to break in to locked doors since the cards are useless for their original intended purposes, at least not until the US lifts sanctions against Syria. (Not that we’re suggesting you start committing crimes by breaking and entering, y’know that’s not Kipp’s style.)

Not only are tourists unable to use their cards to go shopping or pay for meals and hotels, but businessmen have had to open accounts in other countries like Lebanon or in the UAE to be able to continue to make business transactions.

The card blocks started last week. There were no alerts for card holders until of course they used the card, at which point they would get an SMS notifying them of the card block. Well, what do you want? These banks can’t possibly organise a mass mailshot to customers to alert them to carry as much cash as possible because their cards will be as useless as a raincoat in the middle of summer. That would be asking too much.

The sanctions have all been put in place to put pressure on the Syrian government to stop the violence within the country. And we do hope the upheavals and violence quell down soon. It is only a pity to see that these sanctions are more obviously felt by the same people the sanctions are meant to defend.

It’ll be a wonder how small and medium Syrian businesses will be allowed to grow regionally. Plus, how will this change the contribution of Syrian tourism, remittance and business to the regional economy? Well, Kipp supposes if Iran can do it (has been doing it for years to a point of even creating a thriving local economy cut off from the rest of the world), then Syria really isn’t a far stretch, isn’t it? We’ll leave you to connect the rest of the dots.

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