News / Middle East

Border Traders Hit Hard by Syrian Sanctions, Violence

Henry Ridgwell

The government crackdown in Syria is having economic reverberations across the region. In addition to sanctions imposed on Syria, many transport firms are finding it too risky to enter Syria. That's having consequences on traders on both sides of the frontier.

At the Cilvegozu border crossing in Turkey, the trickle of trucks, cars and people coming from Syria bear testament to the violence beyond the frontier. The latest arrivals are two cars bearing Saudi Arabian license plates. The doors and windows are ridden with bullet holes.

The Turkish occupants had been travelling back to their jobs in Saudi when they came under attack just a few kilometers into Syria. One of the drivers, Nesim Zeytinci describes what happened.

“We were driving in Syria," he said. "As we went over a bridge, we were attacked by some gunmen but we don’t know who they were. We sped off for around 500 meters under fire, then we turned off into a local neighborhood and the people there helped us. An ambulance came to take the injured passenger to hospital.”

There is now a permanent queue of trucks waiting on the Turkish side; drivers say sometimes it stretches 10 kilometers. Transport firms are increasingly wary of sending people and cargo into Syria.

“There is no security and the latest information we have is that on the Syrian side of the border they don’t give you your paperwork," said Mehmet Eski, who is supposed to be delivering drilling pipes to Dubai. "We were here waiting for a couple of days for our Saudi visas, we finally got those but now there is no security in Syria so we cannot go. Last night in the news,” he added, “the Foreign Minister and governor of Antakya warned people not to go to Syria unless they really have to.”

Eski’s transport company decided to re-route the shipment via Iraq - a much longer route and not without its own dangers.

But it’s not just the violence that’s hitting trade.

Turkey has imposed financial and travel sanctions on the Syrian government. The U.S. and the European Union are tightening their economic sanctions on Syrian banks and oil firms

But questions remain over their effectiveness, says London-based analyst Shashank Joshi of Royal United Services Institute.

“If the Arab League imposes very harsh sanctions, with the U.N. or by itself, would they be policed? We know Syria’s borders with Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq are long and porous, it’s very hard to police sanctions," said Joshi. "Just like we saw in the 1990's with Iraq, would oil embargoes or restrictions on goods really be effective, can we stop stuff coming in and out of Syria?”

Effective or not, Joshi says sanctions are the option of choice for keeping international pressure on the Syrian government. That leaves commerce in limbo with world powers lacking an appetite for military intervention as violence inside Syria worsens.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid