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Does the EU’s Lifting Sanctions on Syria’s Oil have Implications? By Ray Joseph

Posted on Wednesday, 24th April 2013 @ 12:09 PM by Text Size A | A | A

In an astute political move the European Union lifted its embargo Monday on oil imports from Syria. Actually better make that an embargo lifted on oil imports from rebel held areas in Syria.

This is a de facto sidelining of the regime in power by the EU and recognition of the rebels as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Which opposition group will represent Syria in future talks with the EU however remains as murky as the war many of the various factions engaged in the Syrian conflict are fighting.

Indeed, the forces queuing up to help President Bashar Assad vacate the presidency are numerous and far from united.

In any case, don’t expect to see Syria’s oil production, which has practically come to a complete standstill as a result of the war, to start flowing anytime soon.  Syria’s oil infrastructure, already antiquated and hurt by years of US and EU sanctions is in dire need of repair and modernizing.

The European change of policy towards Syria includes authorizing European companies to export to Syria materials needed to update their facilities, however due to the highly dangerous situation as a result of the fighting, it may be a while still before the Syrians can restart their production flowing.

Still, while the EU’s decision should be seen as good news from an economic perspective, in reality it is – at least for the moment – much more of a political message to the parties engaged in a violent internal strife that has pitted pro- and anti-regime forces in a fight to the finish. Nevertheless, the EU’s decision to lift the embargo sends a clear message to all sides and unequivocally gives the opposition support and legitimacy.

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