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Are Western sanctions against Syria an option?

By Islam Qasem

, by OpenDemocracy

In the final analysis, sanctions are unlikely to produce the desired effect in time. Assad’s killing machine will continue to target civilians, but sanctions will suck the economic and political oxygen out of the regime.

Western countries are at loss about how to pressure Bashar al-Assad to end the brutal crackdown on protestors. They do not know whether or not to sanction Syria’s oil and gas industry. They often ask first whether sanctions will end up harming civilians, and second, will they actually work? These questions have relevance but they demonstrate poor understanding of sanctions as a foreign policy instrument.

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