Syria says preparing to finalize oil deal with Russia

In a third-world economy, there is no bottom. What sanctions? Syria has proven it will find a way around them.

Syria is preparing to complete a deal with ally Russia to secure much-needed oil products to keep its economy and military running, the head of a Syrian delegation to Russia said on Tuesday, weeks after he said an agreement had been reached.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil on August 3 told reporters that an agreement had been reached for Syria to export crude to Russia in exchange for refined oil products.

“It was an agreement in principle reached during our last visit,” Jamil said at a news conference, adding that sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union were biting into the Syrian economy.

“We have to find an alternative path. I think in the near future we will complete the preparatory stage and move on to a real agreement on the delivery of oil and oil products,” he said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russia has remained silent on the issue of an oil-for-oil-products swap deal, which could raise questions on the extent to which it might extend help to Assad’s government, whose days analysts and some western countries say are numbered.

Full article: Syria says preparing to finalize oil deal with Russia (Reuters)

Market Economy for Syria

With the Marshall Plan serving as a model and Germany at the helm, a planned market economy for a post-Assad Syria is already underway:

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin is preparing for Syria’s transformation to a liberal market economy. Under German leadership, a multinational “Working Group” began its work late last week. Immediately following the overthrow of the Assad regime, this “Working Group” is planning to launch urgent economic measures, including the coordination of aid projects and the implementation of economic reforms. Together with the United Arab Emirates, the German government is establishing a “secretariat,” under the leadership of a German with Afghanistan experience. In cooperation with the Assad regime, Berlin had already promoted the Syrian economy’s privatization. However, the nascent liberalization drove sectors of the population into bankruptcy, thereby contributing to insurgence against the regime. Berlin has already received first drafts for Syria’s new economic order. They were written by an activist of the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is under strong criticism by a large part of the opposition because of the pre-eminence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington-based Syrian exile politicians hold leading positions in the SNC. They are demanding a Kosovo-style western intervention and consider Kosovo’s KLA to be a model for the Syrian opposition.

Germany in Charge

According to German diplomat, Clemens von Goetze, who, along with a colleague from the United Arab Emirates, had co-chaired the meeting last week, the “Working Group” not only has plans for emergency aid for the immediate aftermath of the regime change, but he finds “it is a good time already to start now for a long-term perspective of the country once change comes in Syria.”[2] The Marshall Plan, implemented by the United States after World War II, to provide the material foundation for the establishment of the Western alliance, serves as a model. The “Working Group” set up several sub-committees along the lines of special issues. The member countries have officially agreed on an international division of labor, with Germany in charge of “economic policy and reform.” According to reports, the explicit goal is a “long term strategy” [3] for the transition “from a centralized economy to a market economy.” The “Working Group” will set up a secretariat, with Germany and the United Arab Emirates each providing 600,000 Euros. It will be headed by Gunnar Wälzholz, of Germany, who had been the director of the Afghanistan branch of the German Development Bank (KFW).

Full article: Market Economy for Syria (German Foreign Policy)