Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's deposits went in the first four months of 2011, some ending up in Lebanese banks
By Robert Fisk
"....Of course, in the fantasy of Damascus – where Bashar appears to live in the same "sea of quietness" in which the Egyptian writer Mohamed Heikel believes all dictators breathe – the world goes on as usual. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – another earth-trembler if ever there was one – no sooner demands an "immediate" end to "all military operations and mass arrests", than dear old Bashar tells him that "military and police action" has stopped.
Well, blow me down, as the Syrian population must now be saying. So what were all those reports coming in yesterday from Syria, of widespread gunfire in Latakia, of troops looting private property in the city, of a man arrested in his hospital bed in Zabadani, of snipers still on the rooftops of government buildings in Deir el-Zour? Crimes against humanity? Needless to say, the Syrian government knows nothing about this.
Besides, hasn't Gaddafi been accused of "crimes against humanity"? Wasn't he supposed to have "stepped aside" six months ago? And isn't Gaddafi – a little more fragile now, of course – still in Tripoli? And this is after months of Nato bombardment, something that Bashar has nothing to worry about. Well, well, well.....
The real fear for Bashar is not oil sanctions but banks – especially the £12bn in foreign reserves that existed in Syria's Central Bank in February, a sum which is now being depleted by around £50m a week. In May, Syria's foreign minister – the mighty (physically) Walid Moallem – asked Baghdad for cheap Iraqi oil. Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's banking deposits disappeared in the first four months of 2011; £1.8bn was withdrawn, some of it ending up in Lebanese banks.
All in all, then, a nasty economic climate in which to go on bashing your own people. So who cares what Obama says? Certainly not the Syrians, which is why they are now trying to set up a "High Commission for Leading the Revolution" to co-ordinate protesters in the country's provinces.... "