Obama's New Year Resolution: More Middle East War - by Stephen Lendman
Syria and Iran are targeted for regime change.
Syria and Iran are targeted. Regime change is planned. At issue is replacing them with client ones, controlling the region's strategic resources, and depriving key rivals China and Russia from access.
Pressure keeps building relentlessly. For months, Syria's been ravaged by externally generated violence. Its economy's also suffered enormously. According to a Damascus University assessment:
"The general financial situation of the country is suffering from the inability of the state budget because of the inability of the general revenue to cover expenses."
Moreover, conditions ahead look worse because tax revenues are half what's needed. Economic sanctions also impede oil revenues. As a result, the estimated 2012 budget deficit will be about 529 billion Syrian pounds ($9 billion dollars) out of a total $1,316 billion budget. A 40% revenue shortfall amounts to 18% of GDP.
Combined with accumulated deficits, financial strain is hugely disruptive. Syria's been cut off from credit markets. Traditionally, Central Bank loans funded deficits. However, sufficient reserves are lacking. Prices keep rising. Purchasing power further erodes. In the past six years, it's fallen 40 - 50%.
The solution requires banks and corporate Syria to help. They're able to provide considerable government funding from their "enormous profits during the economic reform and liberalization process." Doing this can be done through laws specifying amounts, rates and terms.
Syria can only raise 60% of budget needs. It can't borrow so needs other ways to cover the shortfall. Currently, 59 Syrian pounds = one US dollar. So far, economic collapse has been prevented. However, it's coming without help, and with it greater pressure on an already beleaguered regime.
Washington Intervention Looms
In mid-December, State Department official Fred Hof called Syria a "dead man walking," saying it can't hang on much longer. More serious are reports of Washington preparing to intervene.
Options include a no-fly zone, a humanitarian corridor or safe zone along the Syrian/Turkish border, increasing aid to insurgent forces, bring in greater numbers, tightening sanctions further, perhaps a blockade, and if other measures fail, then war.
In fact, under international law, blockades are acts of war. They're variously defined as:
- surrounding a nation or objective with hostile forces;
- measures to isolate an enemy;
- encirclement and besieging;