Assessment of Syrian Energy Sanctions

A report outlining analysis of the Syrian Integrated Energy Supply System and recommending targeted energy sanctions and its impact in order to weaken the Assad regime.

This report outlines the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the Syrian Integrated Energy Supply System and recommends targeting energy sanctions to further weaken the Assad regime. The report also assesses the socioeconomic impact and the effectiveness of the policy recommendations of a proposed imposition of a Syria-specific energy sanctions. The report is prepared by SRCC Energy Team and edited by Ausama Monajed.


The Assad regime exports an estimated 148,000 bpd. There are two main grades, Syrian Light and Soweidie. Currently all exports are of the Soweidie grade since local refineries need Syrian Light to process for products for the domestic market. The technical specifications of Soweidie are worth noting as they affect consideration of sanctions. Oil revenues account for about a third of the regime’s income and are the main resource for financing the repressive organs of the Assad who employs over a quarter of a million security personnel. If the regime is to be hurt, its financial body should be targeted, as the absence of money equals the absence of hired mercenaries and thugs. The regime has been suffering financial difficulties since the start of the revolution. The Assad regime has no sufficient foreign reserves to withstand the effects of oil sanctions for a number of months as it is already facing problems feeding internal need due to the usage of gas by the heavy armored units utilized to suppress the demonstrators.

Executive Summary

The regime’s exports are all handled by Sytrol, the state monopoly company. Relatively few refineries are adapted to handle crude grades as sour and heavy as the Syrian grade. It is shipped through Aframax tankers

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Reform Policies of the Syrian Penal System

Policy paper addresses the weaknesses of the penal system since the Baath Party came to power in Syria. It proposes penal reform according to the international conventions on human rights.

The penal system is of paramount importance as a result of its direct impact not only on the rights, freedom, dignity, and physical and mental welfare of citizens, but also on the security, progression and development of society.

Any penal policy must take equal account of both the rights of the citizen and the higher interest of society. The current penal policy in Syria neglects the primary purpose of punishment, which is two-fold: rehabilitation and deterrence.

The weakening of the independence of the judiciary, the reinforcing of the immunity of security agencies and the misguided penal policy – together with the concomitant violation of citizens’ dignity and the increasing sense of injustice – have played the largest part in the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. Drastic measures must be taken at the political, legislative and practical levels, with a particular focus on the eradication of legal provisions which violate freedoms and human rights. Moreover, pertinent legislation must be enacted which recognises the importance of reinforcing oversight of the observance and application of such laws.

One of the priorities of the transitional period will be to uphold international law and to formulate penal policies and legislation that complies with the international conventions on human rights. This derives from the fact that the supremacy of international law over domestic law is considered to be one of the most fundamental international principles, and has long been explicitly acknowledged before the United Nations committees by governments party to such conventions, including the Syrian government. Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulates that “A party may not invoke the provisions …

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Restructuring Judicial System in Future Syria

This policy research proposes a set of policy recommendations to the transitional government in Syria to guide the judicial apparatus in the proper direction towards a comprehensive reform.

The subject matter of this policy paper is that of systematic policies for the radical reform of the judiciary in Syria, in order to promote the success of the historic process of change underway in the country. The Syrian people are driving this process in the direction of the establishment of a democratic civil state. The study reviews the most significant obstacles hindering Syria’s judiciary, commencing with the numerousness of the bodies exercising justice, the intervention in its affairs, the weakness of its neutrality, the absence of respect for its decisions and the backward nature of laws which erect a stumbling block before the judiciary with regards to the exercising of its role in realising justice, preserving stability and social peace, and absorbing societal tensions.

This study proposes a set of policies which the transitional government must follow if it is to guide the judicial apparatus in the proper direction towards a comprehensive reform that guarantees its actual and practical independence from the executive and legislative authorities. It stresses that judicial oversight of the actions of the legislature and executive plays an important role in protecting individuals and groups from arbitrariness and abuses, in reducing transgressions, and in providing justice as a guarantee of truth on the basis of equality. It is widely accepted that the independence and neutrality of the judiciary constitute both a fundamental indicator of a sound climate for economic growth and a spur for the promotion of investment.

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Electoral System in Future Syria

This policy paper provides a roadmap for electoral reforms necessary to set Syria on the path to democratisation. A proposed electoral model for Syria should build upon elements of democratic models of government, voting, party and state systems.

Syrian authorities responded to widespread anti-government protests with overwhelming military force. The internal conditions in Syria will continue to deteriorate, but what is now certain is that the Assad regime would eventually collapse. These developments mean that Syrian opposition groups must begin negotiating clear state-building strategies in preparation for Assad’s fall. A post-Assad roadmap needs to be drafted as soon as possible to would prevent the country from sliding into a civil war or collapsing into a spiral of chaos.

As part of a roadmap, opposition groups led by the Syrian National Council must work together on drafting a one-year plan for a realistic democratic transition and electoral reforms, during which elections at all levels would take place and a new constitution would be drafted paving the way for a parliamentary democracy. A reform plan must guarantee basic freedoms, denounce sectarianism and violence, protect human and minority rights, and ensure the rule of law – this requires the state to be based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power.

To avoid becoming a failed state with enduring ethnic and religious divides, a proposed electoral model for Syria should build upon certain elements of democratic models of government, voting, party, and state systems. This requires careful institutional engineering to create a functioning multi-ethnic democracy that allows competitive elections across ethnic boundaries without discriminating against any members of Syrian society. To ensure its success, the Syrian electoral model should therefore be tailored to the intricate composition of the Syrian society.

This paper concludes by providing a vision on how the transition will …

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Syria’s Electoral Reforms: Myths and Facts











The Syrian people need to reject the new constitution because it comes from the point of lost political and moral legitimacy, it comes under continuous violence, and it does not fit Syria’s future.

In an attempt to “calm” the uprising, Bashar Assad ‘conceded’ to some of the demands of the opposition. However, his attempts were either too little, too late, or too vague. In May 2011, he agreed to lift the Emergency Law which has effectively suspended most constitutional protections for citizens since 1963. But that did not stop Assad’s security apparatus from referring civilians to state security courts and targeting citizens who were protesting peacefully. Likewise, in October 2011, Assad asked a committee to prepare constitutional amendments that would bring in democratic reforms to the country. The amendments were finalized and put to a popular referendum on 26 February 2012. An election held in May 2012 was called a “sham” by the revolutionaries installed new members of parliament.

On the one hand, Assad sees the new constitution as the key element in a reform process, and says it will make Syria a beacon of democracy in the region. On the other hand, the opposition has boycotted the vote, calling it a farce and demanded Assad to step down. The new constitution calls for multi-party parliamentary elections within three months, which would replace the old monopoly of power enjoyed by the ruling Baath Party. One year ago, this would have appeared revolutionary, but today, activist and opposition groups have dismissed it as a sham, pointing out that the regime ignored many elements of the old constitution, which guaranteed personal and political freedoms and banned torture.

But there are more reasons for the opposition and activists to be sceptical of the …

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Health Information Systems in Future Syria

One of the main responsibilities of the Syrian Ministry of Health as outlined in its published list of goals and responsibilities is to develop a health information system as a main tool to gather data, analyse it and utilize it in the decision making process.

The future of Syria carries many challenges and tracks that the transitional and post-transitional governments will need to effectively tackle.

Health care information system can be defined as the process by which information about the status of the health care system and quality is timely and reliably collected from all hospitals and medical facilities, analysed and provided to policy makers to pass new policies and regulations accordingly.

The process of health care reform in Syria theoretically began in 2000 and among its objectives was to develop a reliable Health Information System including a decision support service. To achieve this goal the Syrian government has taken some local or domestic initiatives in addition to other initiatives where it sought international assistance.

One of the Local initiatives was a project of administration medical system which started in 2002 and began at Zeid Shreity Hospital, the public hospital with 350 beds in Swaida in the South of the country. The project was to design a computer system to control patients’ medical records and it was completely designed and programed by the computer department of the hospital. Since then, however, very little is known about the outcome of this implementation but what is known is that since then this program was not extended for implementation at other health care institutions.

Internationally significant European Commission activities have been implemented under the MEDA Program in the health sectors providing technical assistance and training notably regarding: legislative, regulatory and financial frameworks. ( The World Health Organization (WHO) has been active in Syria …

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Quality Assurance Challenge in Health Care Reform in Future Syria

Quality assurance (QA) program is a critical component of a modern health care system. The significance of a QA extends beyond achieving an acceptable quality of the administered health care.

WHO, for example, suggests that quality assurance should make improvements in six areas or dimensions of quality where health care is effective adhering to an evidence base and results in improved health outcomes, efficient by maximizing resource use and avoids waste, accessible where delivering health care is not only timely but also geographically reasonable, acceptable and patient-centered taking into account the preferences and aspirations of individuals and communities, equitable with no variation in health care delivery among the components of the society, and finally safe minimizing risks and harm to service users.

Establishing a viable QA program in the Syrian health sector especially in the public health sector has been one of the objectives unsuccessfully targeted by the Syrian Ministry of Health. The modernization program of health care was initiated in Syria and included several QA initiatives some of which were initiated in partnership with international health organization such as the WHO and the health care international organization which assists public, private, and community organizations achieve their strategic objectives and improve its performance and outcomes. These programs stressed on the importance of establishing a health care quality assurance program and attempted to address some of the structural and organizational needs necessary to create such program.

Today, however, and despite these efforts, Syrian hospitals and physicians are still not governed by any practical or enforceable QA measure that mandate participation and reporting.

Why do we think the effort of the Syrian Ministry of Health did not achieve the objective of creating a reliable health care quality assurance program might be multifactorial. The uprising in Syria has certainly opened the door for …

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Safe Area for Syria: An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards

The preconditions and procedures for waging a foreign military intervention in Syria are carefully examined in this report, as are the outstanding obstacles facing the Syrian opposition. Popular support is a critical element of the success of any future campaign to weaken the regime.

Any military intervention option would result in the loss of life in Syria while likewise helping to stem current and future mass-scale killings at the behest of the regime’s leadership. Although these losses are impossible to quantify hypothetically, they can be minimized given the technological and strategic superiority of Western powers.

Popular support is a critical element of the success of any future campaign to weaken and collapse the regime’s security infrastructure, whether by conventional rebel means or via a combination of irregular warfare supported by Western-backed air cover.

Legitimacy for such a campaign can only come if the objectives are clearly articulated from the outset, and if they are publicly endorsed by other Arab and Muslim-majority nations as well as by the bulk of the international community. It is no minor development that Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, noted recently, “In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.”

Furthermore, the regime’s systematic attacks against local communities in Daraa, Deir Azzour, Homs, Hama and the Damascus suburbs strongly indicate that any attempt to hasten the end of the regime’s barbarism is likely be met with gratitude. Although it is impossible to poll a people under siege, there is credible evidence that suggests a large percentage of on-the-ground activists support foreign intervention, especially after fall of Tripoli and the death of Gaddafi. The Syrian people have amply demonstrated a heroic willingness to …

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Health Insurance System in Future Syria

Syria lacks a fair and equitable access to health care with decreasing government spending on health care and a lack of a health insurance system.

The transitional and post-transitional governments should launch a full feasibility assessment project to initiate deep-rooted changes in the health sector. Reforms should be implemented on a new platform of good governance measures and a political will to resolve the stagnant problems within the health care system in Syria.

The intent of a health insurance system is multidimensional and includes providing universal coverage, coordination of care, prioritization of prevention and wellness programs, effective care for better health outcome, efficient use of resources and responsiveness to patients’ concerns.

When designing health insurance systems we need to emphasize on a few pillars. The creation of a value in the system recognizes that spending more on health care does not necessarily correlate with achieving the objectives of the health insurance system. Coordination of care is another important component of building a health insurance system. There is ample evidence to suggest that only through the coordination of care will the insurance system be able to reduce waste and thus decrease cost. This Care coordination must be based on an improved electronic medical record infrastructure and be a fundamental part of administering health care.

Prioritizing prevention and wellness programs should also be a corner stone on any legislation that governs the design of a health insurance system. A great return and cost control can be expected by implementing preventions programs.

Providing universal coverage is a noble cause and probably the most important pillar of the health sector; how a country becomes able to provide universal coverage is tightly linked to how the country will finance its health system and health insurance coverage. There are about 200 countries registered with United Nations

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Health Care Policy in Future Syria

This policy paper is intended for policy makers and strategic planners during the transitional period who are involved in health care policies, as well as those involved in administering health care in Syria.

Any effort aiming to evaluate current health care policies in Syria must analyse its three different components that are closely interdependent:

  1. Health that is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease.
  2. Health care system which is defined as a structure within which people, governmental policies, and organisations interact to assure the right of access to quality health for all citizens at an economical cost.
  3. Health care information system which is the process by which information about the status of the health care system and quality is timely and reliably collected, analysed and provided to policy makers

Fundamental deficiencies that exist in the current Syrian health care system will be thoroughly discussed along with proposed policy recommendations and a road map to help eliminate or diminish them. The paper will outline policies needed to develop and achieve a health care quality that meets the WHO standards and performance measures and form health information systems that facilitate the achievement of goals and objectives.

Even though a new health care policy will require financing which will be derived from the government health care expenditure, the expected cost saving that can be realized after the implementation of the suggested programs can be quite significant.

Considering the fact that health care reform in Syria is certainly a major task, a comprehensive feasibility study will be essential. Such study will be detailed below and will evaluate the demands of change, the available and needed resources and the prospects of success.


Public health and health care …

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