Syria’s remaining cash reserves are quickly dwindling as the country’s anti-government uprising marks its 13th month, according to intelligence officials and financial analysts who describe a steady hollowing-out of the country’s economy in the face of sanctions. The financial hemorrhaging has forced Syrian officials to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the county, and has prompted the government to seek more help from Iran to prop up the country’s sagging currency. Yet Assad’s reserves and sizable black-market income are probably sufficient to keep the regime’s elite in power for several months and perhaps longer.
Hard currency in the government’s bank accounts estimated at $20 billion a year ago has plunged to between $5 billion and $10 billion and now loses about $1 billion a month. “They are flying through cash in order to finance the crackdown, and they have no prospects for getting more,” said a senior Obama administration official. “Iranian money is helping Assad survive,” said a Middle Eastern intelligence official. “But Iran is having its own problems, and they are more limited now in the support they can offer.”
(Joby Warrick and Alice Fordham – Washington Post)