WikiLeaks paper shows probable signs that the US was preparing for a proxy war in Syria as early as 2006
The WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) holds the world's largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words. The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published. The PlusD collection, built and curated by WikiLeaks, is updated from a variety of sources, including leaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and documents released by the US State Department systematic declassification review.
A cable from January 2010 shows probable signs that the US was preparing for a proxy war in Syria as early as 2006.
Despite that, as the cable itself describes, the Syrian government was making some efforts to open its borders to foreign business and investments, the US officials were still unhappy with the Syrian authorities traditional 'habit' to regulate private business activities.
The cable express the desire of the US to force Syria fully adopt the neoliberal policies, therefore, fully open and deregulate its market in favor of the US companies. Pretexts like bureaucracy, government and public sector corruption are being used. Fully aligned with the neoliberal doctrine, the cable supports even that “labor laws are complex and significantly limit an employer's flexibility to hire and fire employees.” This is a common practice that we've seen by the IMF in all the countries that has 'invaded' and destroyed economically.
There is also a flavor of US intense dissatisfaction for the fact that Syria was cooperating with foreign private capital at the time where the US companies were finding particularly hard to operate in the country due to the sanctions imposed. For example, we read that the Syrian government "awarded a contract to a French-Syrian consortium to operate the container terminal at the Port of Latakia. The tendering process was typically opaque and the winning French company may have benefited from having an influential Syrian partner and an improving political relationship between Syria and France."
Therefore, the only 'solution' for the US capital to escape from this dead end in order to make a dynamic comeback in Syria under its own terms and conditions, was the most common among the US policies: regime change. Such a suspicion can be supported by the fact that, as the cable describes, "since the end of 2006, a number of U.S. corporations, notably in the oil and gas sector, made the decision to divest and cease their activities in Syria.", but mostly by the fact that "the Secretary of the Treasury issued a decision on March 9, 2006 banning correspondent relations between the Commercial Bank of Syria [CBS] and U.S. financial institutions. Although the U.S. Treasury sanction only targets CBS, many U.S. and European banks subsequently cut off correspondent banking relationships with all Syria-based financial institutions."
Finally, it is almost hilarious to read that "the President has designated the Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS) as an institution of primary money-laundering concern.", as if the Western banking cabal is pure and ethical!
Some key parts:
SAA [Syria Accountability Act] sanctions are in addition to restrictions under the Grassley Amendment that prevents U.S. corporations from taking advantage of foreign tax credits for taxes paid in Syria. Furthermore, the President has designated more sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Section 311 of the USAPATRIOT Act regarding financial transactions with the Commercial Bank of Syria. As a result, the transfer of U.S. dollars to and from Syria has become difficult, making investments that much more challenging to execute. Therefore, since the end of 2006, a number of U.S. corporations, notably in the oil and gas sector, made the decision to divest and cease their activities in Syria.
In 2009 the Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) did issue new laws in the fields of investment, tourism, shipping, arbitration, intellectual property rights (IPR), banking and finance, real estate, and trade that continue its slow and halting effort to reform the country's economy. Continued political instability in Syria's neighboring countries, however, as well as the international financial crisis, discouraged significant foreign investment. [...] Decree No. 8 is designed to enable investors, whether Syrians, Arabs, or foreigners, to own or lease the land required for their projects, and provides for free repatriation of profits, dividends and invested capital on condition that all tax liabilities have been met.
Although government officials had previously stated that no privatization of state enterprises will take place during the current Five-Year Plan, which runs through 2010, in 2007 the SARG awarded a contract to a Philippines-based company to develop and run the small container terminal in the Port of Tartous. Similarly, in 2008, the SARG awarded a contract to a French-Syrian consortium to operate the container terminal at the Port of Latakia. The tendering process was typically opaque and the winning French company may have benefited from having an influential Syrian partner and an improving political relationship between Syria and France.
In addition to the challenges mentioned above, business contacts highlighted the following specific difficulties of doing business in Syria: - The SARG requires import licenses for every item imported, except for raw materials and items imported from Turkey and the GAFTA (Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement) countries. [...] The awarding of contracts is often delayed by the lobbying efforts of influential local business interests and groups. [...] labor laws are complex and significantly limit an employer's flexibility to hire and fire employees.
In June 2008, the SARG issued Law 11 regulating property ownership by non-Syrians. The law's objective is to facilitate foreign ownership of residential property as a means of stimulating greater overall foreign investment. Law 11 was followed quickly by Law 15 in July 2008, which established a Real Estate Development and Investment Authority specifically empowered to encourage investment in the real estate sector. Despite these steps, foreign individuals and companies are allowed to rent offices and residences for a maximum period of 15 years, which is not renewable.
Enforcement of the Arab League Boycott of Israel (dating from 1967) may lead to difficulties in the importation of needed products or in registering trademarks because the government requires additional paperwork certifying compliance with the boycott. U.S. law prohibits companies from providing this paperwork. Anecdotal reports indicate the SARG has occasionally waived its requirement for boycott compliance certification in order to facilitate business with large U.S. companies. As of September 2009, the Syrian Trademark Office is no longer asking foreign companies to fill out an application declaring their compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel.
Under the guidelines of the USAPATRIOT Act, the President has designated the Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS) as an institution of primary money-laundering concern. Consequently, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a decision on March 9, 2006 banning correspondent relations between the Commercial Bank of Syria and U.S. financial institutions. Although the U.S. Treasury sanction only targets CBS, many U.S. and European banks subsequently cut off correspondent banking relationships with all Syria-based financial institutions.
In 2006, the government allowed private investors to have access to foreign currency through CBS to finance the import of raw materials. In 2007, the SARG authorized foreign investors to receive loans and other credit instruments from foreign banks, and to repay them as well as any accrued interest from the proceeds of their projects using local banks. In February 2008, the SARG permitted investors to receive loans in foreign currencies from local private banks provided that the loans are used to finance capital investment, particularly the import of machinery and production equipment. Debtors are free to repay their loans from their foreign currency accounts in Syria or abroad or by purchasing foreign currency from the lending bank.
The SARG passed Law 24 in April 2006 which permits the operation of private money exchange companies, provided such operations are licensed. To date, there are ten currency exchange companies and 12 currency exchange offices operating in Syria, although many more continue to operate illegally on Syria's vast black market. Outward capital and profit transfers are permitted to companies licensed under Decree 8. Otherwise, they are prohibited unless approved by the Prime Minister or arranged separately, as in the case of production-sharing agreements with oil exploration companies.
A number of U.S. suppliers and companies have asserted claims against state enterprises for non-payment of goods and services delivered. The government has made an effort since 1996 to settle some of these cases on a case-by-case basis and one American supplier finally received payment in 2002 for goods delivered in 1982. Long delays are common in settling disputes through negotiation and arbitration. In the past several years, fewer investment disputes have been filed or brought to the Embassy's attention as U.S. business activity in Syria has decreased steadily over that period.