Syrian President Bashar Assad issued that the major financial crisis that blocked billions of dollars of deposits in Lebanon’s financial sector are the main reason to blame for Syria’s worsening economic crisis.
“It’s the money they put in Lebanese banks that we paid the price for. This is the core of the problem that no one talks about,” Assad said, speaking during a tour of a trade fair broadcast on state media.
Lebanese banks that are battling with the deteriorating Lebanese pound have since last year began tight controls on withdrawals and transfers abroad, drawing outrage from local and foreign depositors who are now unable to access their accounts.
Assad noted that anywhere from $20 billion to $42 billion of Syrian deposits could have been lost in the once-successful banking sector that held over $170 billion in foreign currency deposits.
“This figure for an economy like Syria is terrifying,” he added
Syrian businessmen have explained their situation with Lebanon’s tight controls on withdrawals, saying that they have locked hundreds of millions of dollars that were once used to import basic goods from oil to commodities into Syria.
According to bankers and businessmen, many Syrian front companies have also long avoided sanctions that the US Treasury has imposed on them by using Lebanon’s banking system to import illegal goods into Syria by land.
Assad further claimed that the current economic crisis of his country is not caused by the Caesar Act, which is the toughest US sanctions yet against Damascus and which came into action last June, but by Lebanon’s banks.
“The crisis began before the Caesar Act and years after the long-imposed Western sanctions… It’s the money in the Lebanese banks that has been lost,” Assad said.
Fact is, the ongoing issue with the Lebanese banks restricting withdrawals of the depositors’ funds started only in 2019 during the early stages of the October 17 revolution, aka years after the onset of Syria’s war plight that has ravaged its country and economy.
Moreover, in his blames against Lebanon, Assad failed to mention its regime’s role in crippling further the economy of Lebanon that has been sheltering for almost a decade over a million Syrian refugees which he has failed to protect.
That’s to add the long open-ended smuggling of Lebanon subsidized essentials into Syria to support his regime at the account of Lebanon’s crippled economy and the increased financial suffering of the Lebanese people.