Legal Briefing- September 2020

Government

The new government of Prime Minister Hussein Arnous was sworn in before President Bashar Al-Assad, who later addressed the Council of Ministers and focused on various topics, including the National Administrative Reform Program and its connection to stemming corruption. He reiterated government policy towards regulating exemptions in laws in order to curb the discretionary authority that public officials have hitherto enjoyed and who may otherwise continue to abuse their powers in favor of some citizens at the expense of others. He also called on the Supreme Judicial Council to focus on strengthening the judiciary to eliminate internal defects and fulfill its function as an arbiter in disputes free from the temptations of corrupt acts, including by taking stricter disciplinary action where appropriate. President Al-Assad held that the best method by which to resist the international sanctions regimes against Syria is to support industries and the means of local production but he reiterated that the agricultural sector and food security nevertheless take priority. Although more than two decades have passed since he headed up the Syrian Computer Society, President Al-Assad considered that another key priority is the IT sector and that Syria should make use of some of its local tech savvy talent who can engage creatively despite the embargo. In light of recent developments in electronic payment systems, President Al-Assad believed that such developments help formalize transactions within the banking sector away from the informal economy, which will complement resistance against tax evasion and currency speculation.

Prime Minister Hussein Arnous presented the policy statement of the new Council of Ministers to the People’s Assembly.

Prime Minister Hussein Arnous issued a resolution appointing the Economic Committee affiliated to the Council of Ministers to be headed by the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade and includes the Ministers of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, Finance, Industry, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, the Minister of State for Investment Affairs, the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, the Director of the Planning and International Cooperation Commission, and the Governor of the Central Bank. Prime Minister Hussein Arnous also issued a resolution appointing the Human Development Committee affiliated to the Council of Ministers to be headed by the Minister of Administrative Development and includes the Ministers of Social Affairs and Labour, Information, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Culture, Education, Justice and Health. The Prime Minister also appointed members to other committees affiliated to the Council of Ministers, including the Services and Infrastructure Committee and the Resources and Energy Committee.

Health

Another delivery of medical aid by the Emirates Red Crescent to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent arrived at Damascus International Airport and included approximately 25 tons of medical supplies to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education

The Minister of Education and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Damascus were caught up in a public misunderstanding after the latter recommended that primary schools delay reopening by 15 days to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. 3,800,000 students registered in 13,280 schools went back to the classroom on September 13th for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Director of Private Education at the Ministry of Education is reportedly warning private schools against unjustly hiking tuition fees, which have in some cases apparently reached twice as much compared with the previous year. According to Article 37 of the Executive Regulations of the Private Education Law provided for in Legislative Decree 55/2004, private schools must adhere to their advertised tuition fees as approved by the Ministry of Education and any changes usually also require prior approval.

International Agreements

A Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Damascus and met with President Bashar Al-Assad, Prime Minister Hussein Arnous and Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional politics. The Syrian and Russian parties focused on a new draft agreement to expand commercial, industrial and economic cooperation between the two countries, which covers more than 40 new projects, including reconstruction of energy infrastructure such as hydroelectric power plants. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Borisov also indicated that a contract was signed mandating a Russian company to explore and extract oil and gas off the Syrian coast and that a trade agreement between Russia and Syria could be signed during another visit to Damascus in December. Borisov noted that most of the areas rich in oil and gas are outside the control of the Syrian government, which hinders its ability to trade and profit from this sector, and that the same applies to agricultural lands since Syria used to export grain but now imports it. Borisov further asserted that Russia will continue to provide support to Syria to restore control over all of its territories as well as concluding new agreements to help ease the burdens resulting from the international sanctions regime imposed against Syria. President Bashar Al-Assad for his part stressed the keenness of the Syrian government to work with Russia to implement the economic agreements signed between the two countries, which would help alleviate the effects of international sanctions, including the US Caesar Act. Russian investments in Syria are currently led by the company Stroytransgaz and include those in Tartous Port, the oil and gas sector, phosphate and fertilizer plants, and so forth. They date back from the 2000s but picked up speed in the last couple of years.

The Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development announced that dozens of new companies are in the process of incorporating subsidiaries or branches in Syria in light of new agreements signed between Syria and Russia recently.

The Syrian Atomic Energy Authority and the Russian state-owned Rosatom corporation signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

International Trade

Jordanian authorities initially reopened the Jaber border crossing leading into Syria at Nassib to trade after closing it for three weeks as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The Nassib-Jaber crossing at the Syrian-Jordanian border was then reportedly closed by Jordanian authorities to trade once again after its reopening for a few days on the basis of preventative measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Subsequently, the Jordanian authorities granted permission for Syrian trucks to cross the border under certain conditions. Reports now suggest that the transport of goods has finally resumed on the Syrian-Jordanian border under normal conditions following its on-off closure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Council of Ministers deliberated on a bill ratifying the commercial and economic cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade in Syria and Crimea, which would facilitate a shorter trading route to the Russian mainland.

The General Foreign Trade Organization announced an internal tender for Syrian suppliers and an external tender for foreign suppliers to secure 39,400 tons of white Chinese short grain rice provided that bids were received by September 30th for a minimum of 20,000 tons. Prices for internal tenders may be in Syrian Pounds or Euros and for external tenders, they must be in Euros. The bid bonds were set at SYP 22,500 per ton for internal tenders and €15 per ton for external tenders. Performance bonds are fixed at 10%. Delivery of the goods shall be within three months of notification to the supplier. Delays are calculated at 0.1% per day provided that the total amount does not exceed 20% of the contract value. The supplier shall bear all taxes and fees pertaining to the transaction. The General Foreign Trade Organization, which imports goods on behalf of the public sector, is affiliated to the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade and was set up in 2003 following the merger of six state-owned trading establishments dating back to the late 1960s. Like other state-owned public establishments, the General Foreign Trade Organization carries out its activities pursuant to the Public Procurement Law 51/2004 and the contractual template issued pursuant to Decree 450/2004, which contains the terms to be agreed with suppliers.

The Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade again permitted merchants and industrialists to clear their goods through customs according to copies of their original documents for a period of two months following a recommendation to this effect from the Economic Committee.

Commerce

The Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection announced to the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce that his Ministry intended to appeal the judgment of the Council of State Administrative Court before the Supreme Administrative Court. Previously, the Council of State Administrative Court in Damascus issued an injunction staying the decision of the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, which permitted members of the chambers of commerce to pay fees for previous years in one go and participate in elections. The judgment of the Council of State Administrative Court was eventually overruled by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Companies Directorate in the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection began a financial and legal audit of the Rural Damascus Chamber of Commerce over suspected irregularities.

Long-delayed elections to the various chambers of commerce and chambers of industry throughout the provinces in Syria have finally taken place.

The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection announced that subsidized bread is now being allocated through the smart card system in bakeries throughout the provinces of Damascus, Rural Damascus and Lattakia, which should in theory prevent smuggling and overcrowding.

The Council of Ministers mandated the setting of prices for 20 basic goods according to their actual production costs and is legally obligating merchants to adhere to the applicable price bulletin issued by the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection through its provincial directorates and in coordination with local councils regularly updates maximum prices that basic fruits and vegetables may be sold to wholesalers and consumers pursuant to the Consumer Protection Law.

The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection has launched an application on its website called ‘Citizen Eye’ for consumers to submit complaints about price and supply irregularities in violation of administrative pricing regulations and the Consumer Protection Law.

Industry

Pursuant to the Investment Law, the Syrian Investment Authority licensed a manufacturing project in Homs to generate 750,000 tons of silica and silicon annually, which will be used in the production of glass, detergents and in many chemical industries. The project should secure 360 job opportunities and is expected to be implemented within three years. The investor must submit the execution program within three months of the investment license being issued.

The Syrian Investment Authority recently licensed a project pursuant to the Investment Law to produce 2.1 million tons of cement annually outside of Damascus.

The Syrian Investment Authority licensed a project to produce baby formula in Hama with a production capacity of 32 million packages in order to limit local supply disruptions.

The Syrian Investment Authority licensed a project to manufacture and assemble television screens in Hama with a production capacity of 35,000 screens per year.

Agriculture

Firefighters affiliated with the Directorate of Agriculture in the province of Lattakia extinguished huge forest fires, whose cause has not yet been determined, and which were spreading due to the direction of the winds, the rugged terrain and high temperatures. Firefighters and Civil Defense teams have also been active in the province of Hama where fires have consumed large areas of the forests. The Ministry of Health sent in medical support as part of the response plan to the fires, which have displaced and even suffocated residents. The year 2020 has been exceptionally challenging for Syria, which entered its tenth year of conflict, faces economic and financial crises of unprecedented proportions, is plagued by the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, and witnessed low-level earthquakes and horrific forest fires.

The Damascus Chamber of Agriculture revealed that agricultural exports by its members amounted to approximately $60 million (US) since the beginning of 2020 and up to the end of August with 2,960 certificates of origin issued by the Chamber. The agricultural produce of Damascus and its countryside is reportedly mainly exported to Arab countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, in addition to other countries such as Turkey, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

The Director of the Pistachios Office in the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform revealed exports of 556 tons of pistachios so far in 2020 to Canada, Germany, and other European and Arab countries. The price of a kilogram of pistachios ranged from SYP 6,500 to SYP 7,500. Farmers began cultivating their crops at the end of last July and 80% has been harvested so far. Syria’s estimated production of pistachios this season is around 70,000 to 80,000 tons, with 80% intended for exportation while 20% satisfies local demand. Cultivation of pistachios is centered around five provinces, starting with Hama, which accounts for 48% of total production, followed by Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Suwaida. The total area used to plant pistachios in Syria amounts to 60,000 hectares and more than 9.7 million trees. Pistachios are consumed in both their raw and refined forms, with the latter lasting longer. In 2013, Syria ranked fourth worldwide in the production of pistachios after Iran, the United States and Turkey.

The Economic Committee affiliated to the Council of Ministers recommended setting the price of cotton procured from Syrian farmers for the 2020 season at SYP 700 per kilogram. Syria increased its cotton production this season to more than 100,000 tons. Cotton in Syria is mainly harvested in the provinces of Hama, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor and Hassakeh.

Prime Minister Hussein Arnous approved the proposal of the Economic Committee affiliated to the Council of Ministers to ratify the contract between the Al-Ghab Management and Development Commission and the General Corporation for Water Projects for agricultural purposes. The agreement seeks to rehabilitate the northern and southern channels of the Al-Tar irrigation network, which contributes to securing water supplies to the Al-Ghab Plain, also known as the Orontes River Valley, located mainly in the Suqailabieh district of the province of Hama.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform called on relevant parties working in the poultry sector to cooperate to incorporate a joint stock company to import fodder and procure it at reasonable prices after it has become challenging to access it in the current economic climate.

The Syrian Investment Authority licensed a project for the cultivation and production of dates in the city of Abou Kamal in Deir Ez-Zor with an annual capacity of 10,000 tons of dates, which will secure 50 jobs, pursuant to the Investment Law and all its incentives. The Ministry of Water Resources was moreover requested to provide a water source and duly license it in accordance with the Water Resources Law.

Corporate

The CEO of the Damascus Securities Exchange revealed that the expected sale of the Syrian Kuwaiti Company’s share in Al-Baraka Bank – Syria, which amounts to a five percent shareholding, is deemed a significant transaction and capable of a private execution between the parties. Although the sale will be done away from the stock market, the reference price used to conclude the agreement will be that as determined on the Damascus Securities Exchange. Furthermore, the Damascus Securities Exchange will be monitoring the sale. The sale will be executed once the relevant financial brokerage company opens an account to process the transaction and after approvals have been received by the Damascus Securities Exchange from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Monetary and Credit Council, and the Central Bank.

The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection ratified the articles of association of a new electronic payments company with a share capital of SYP 254 million.

Finance

The recent government decision to oblige Syrian expatriates entering Syria to exchange the equivalent of $100 (US) in hard currency into Syrian Pounds at the official Central Bank rate caused uproar especially given that they would have been denied entry unless they do so. The measure may have contradicted Article 38 of the Syrian Constitution. Article 38(1) states that no citizen may be prevented from returning to Syria. Article 38(3) confirms that only a court, the Public Prosecutor, or public health or safety laws may prevent them from entering Syria. The decision to oblige Syrian expatriates to exchange $100 may therefore not entitle Syrian authorities to deny entry to citizens if they do not have the means to do so. Rather, the authorities could treat the situation similar to an expired Syrian passport. In this case, citizens would be allowed to enter their country but may not be permitted to leave Syria unless they satisfy the $100 exchange rule, which is similar to entering Syria on an expired passport and then having to renew it before departing again. According to Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, instructions were subsequently provided to authorities at the border crossings to permit the entry of citizens even if they do not possess $100 (US).

The Central Bank reportedly gave the green light to banks to resume lending following approval by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous of a proposal to this effect by the Economic Committee affiliated to the Council of Ministers after loans were stopped in June of this year. There will however be conditions on the granting of loans, which will focus on financing persons with limited incomes, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the agricultural and real estate sectors.

The Central Bank agreed to reinstate the licenses of three money transfer companies out of the six that were closed down in June.

The Director of the Loan Guarantee Corporation confirmed that the organization will guarantee loans of small and medium-sized enterprises in the agricultural, industrial and technological sectors up to a ceiling of 70% while the banks will cover the risk of the remaining 30%.

The Ministry of Finance revoked Resolution 39/2009, which prohibited the provision of a second loan to a borrower who had obtained a previous loan with respect to the same project.

The Central Bank has honored its obligation to pay back returns on the first certificates of deposit issued in 2020 back in February, which were worth SYP 92.2 billion.

The Ministry of Finance is reforming the Accounting and Auditing Services Law, which will also lead to a review of the provisions regulating the examination process. Successful candidates who pass the exam to become chartered accountants must undertake two years of training. The Chartered Accountants Association is a professional body formally established in Damascus by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour in 1961 pursuant to a presidential decree issued in 1958 during the era of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the United Arab Republic.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) estimated Syria’s economic losses by the end of 2019 at more than $442 billion.

Construction

The Council of Ministers deliberated on a new bill to govern the Construction Contractors Association in light of the requirements of reconstruction and modern technology.

Real Estate

According to a real estate expert, property prices in Syria rose on average by 30% in light of increases in the prices of cement and other construction materials. Cement sold by the public sector is cheaper than the private sector but it is easier to procure from the latter. With respect to buyers in the real estate markets in Syria, the expert emphasized that the transactions are mainly limited to Syrian expatriates rather than local residents, most likely due to the limited purchasing power of the latter.

The state-owned General Housing Corporation announced the starting date of subscriptions for 5,516 real estate units for the former settlers of Marota City and Basilia City in Damascus who are entitled to alternative housing provisions.

Renewable Energy

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a resolution setting prices for the purchase of electricity produced from renewable energy projects that can be linked to the state’s distribution network. For solar power, the price was set at €0.07 per kilowatt hour. For electricity produced from wind turbines, the price was set at €0.06 per kilowatt hour. For electricity produced from landfill gas, the price was set at €0.057 per kilowatt hour. For electricity produced from water turbines, the price was set at €0.06 per kilowatt hour. For electricity produced from biogas or chemical decomposition, the price was set at €0.10 per kilowatt hour. The capacity of the renewable energy projects must not be less than 100 kilowatt hours to qualify for purchases. Payments will be made in Syrian Pounds according to the official exchange rate set by the Central Bank. Renewable energy projects of this nature may be licensed pursuant to the Investment Law.

The Minister of Electricity issued a provisional license to a renewable energy company pursuant to the Electricity Law 32/2010 to establish an independent power producer to generate electricity based on wind energy in Homs with a nominal total capacity of seven megawatts.

The Ministry of Electricity issued five licenses for power generation projects derived from solar energy with a total capacity of 1.6 megawatt hours to be distributed through the national grid. Four of the plants will be located in Hama while the fifth one will be set up in Homs.

Syria’s first plant to extract biogas from animal waste in order to generate energy and fill gas cylinders registered its first production cycle.

Petroleum

The state-owned fuel distribution company adjusted the amount of fuel cars are allocated but not the prices following increased congestion at fuel stations. Vehicles are classified according to those that benefit from subsidies and those that do not. Cars that benefit from subsidies are entitled to 100 liters of subsidized fuel per month at the rate of 30 liters every four days and 100 liters of non-subsidized fuel per month at the rate of 30 liters every four days. As for cars that do not benefit from subsidies at all, they are entitled to 200 liters of fuel per month at the rate of 40 liters every four days.

As part of plans to reduce congestion at fuel stations, a new schedule for fueling cars based on their allotted allocations has been determined by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

As Syria goes through another gasoline shortage crisis, complaints of violations at petrol stations have surged, including instances of smart card manipulations whereby attendants fail to fill up automobiles to their full allocations and sell the balance on the black market.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources is attempting to reassure Syrians by issuing statements that the reduction of fuel allocations to ensure the adequacy of the existing stock for a longer period of time is temporary since fuel supplies are reportedly on the way.

Syria’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources partly blamed the US Caesar Act for fuel shortages being experienced in the country as it deterred some foreign suppliers from dealing with Syria. Sanctions on Iran have reportedly also reduced oil imports from the country. Less volume led the Ministry to initiate long overdue major maintenance works at the main 130,000 barrels per day oil refinery in Banias, which also contributed to reduced distribution of fuel. The refinery supplies two-thirds of Syria’s gasoline requirements according to the Minister. The Minister expects capacity to increase once the maintenance works are completed. He also affirmed that shipments would be forthcoming. Declining foreign currency reserves and the explosion at Beirut Port are also considered some of the causes of the recent shortages. Syria requires between 100,000 to 136,000 barrels of crude oil every day while only 20,000 to 24,000 barrels are currently available, meaning that at least 80,000 barrels of oil need to be imported on a daily basis.

Production has reportedly resumed at Banias Refinery following maintenance works. Presumably, there should be an increase in fuel supplies in the markets, though it is not yet clear by how much.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources confirmed that it will continue to distribute the first batch of diesel for heating purposes at a rate of 200 liters per each family in all the Syrian provinces.

Water Resources

The Mayor of the City of Hassakeh announced that the Prime Minister’s Office approved the installation of four water desalination plants near wells in the city at a cost of SYP 500 million following the water shortages caused by Turkish-backed armed groups cutting off supplies.

Transport

The Council of Ministers agreed to restart operations at Damascus International Airport from the start of October following its closure in March in line with the COVID-19 precautionary measures. The Director of the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that repatriation flights and the quarantine precautions will cease with the resumption of regular air travel but travelers to Syria must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 with a maximum validity period of 96 hours.

The Lebanese General Directorate of Civil Aviation circulated a memorandum to all airlines to collect $50 (US) from passengers coming from Syria to Lebanon to cover the costs of a PCR test irrespective of whether such a test had been undertaken in Syria and come back negative.

Syrian Airlines announced a 180-day tender to sell a French-made Falcon-900 aircraft pursuant to the Public Procurement Law 51/2004 and Decree 450/2004, with the bid bond for local bidders worth SYP 450 million and €300,000 for foreign bidders, and with a 10% performance bond.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly granted permission for Syrian trucks to transit through its territory.

Telecommunications

The judicial custodian of Syriatel appointed a new CEO to manage the telecommunications giant. Syriatel Chairman Rami Makhlouf previously challenged the imposition of a judicial custody order over the company as unlawful. He argued that its imposition pursuant to a lawsuit could only be requested by a shareholder acting in the company’s interests and not by a counterparty involved in a contractual relationship with the company such as the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Media

Following the controversial arrest of a journalist, the Minister of Information confirmed that from now on no journalist would be arrested until the Ministry of Information is informed of the reasons for their arrest in accordance with the Media Law. Furthermore, he also reported that the Minister of Justice communicated this position to the judiciary.

Military

The Ministry of Defence launched an online service to alert military personnel on the status of their mandatory and reservist military service obligations.

The government has reportedly issued Resolution 12556/2020 requiring importers of specified goods to resell five percent of such imported goods to the Social Military Establishment, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Defence and overseas retail outlets utilized by military personnel.

Public Administration

The Council of Ministers deliberated on the new Civil Status Bill, which aims to centralize the work of the various civil registries throughout the country to facilitate the collection and processing of documents from any location in Syria.

Legal Profession

As the Bar Association prepares for its General Conference, its Chairman stressed that recent tensions with the Ministry of Justice over COVID-19 measures will be overcome with the appointment of the new Minister of Justice, who is considered a friend of the legal profession. There is also speculation that the Legal Services Bill, which will regulate the legal profession and replace the current Law 30/2010, will be referred to the People’s Assembly for deliberations soon.

The Chairman of the Bar Association revealed that of the more than 30,000 registered lawyers in Syria, approximately one percent face disciplinary action for suspected fraud. Furthermore, 10% of lawyers appear to make a decent living while 50% to 60% generate an average income.

Judiciary

Acting pursuant to directives from the Supreme Judicial Council, the Minister of Justice issued a resolution appointing new attorneys-general for Damascus and Rural Damascus as well as new financial investigative judges while others were promoted to advisors to the courts.

Crime

The Director of the Criminal Security Department of the Internal Security Forces revealed that the number of crimes investigated in Syria during the first half of this year amounted to 27,710 crimes, a decrease of 3.38% from the same period last year. He affirmed that acts of murder and kidnapping have significantly decreased compared to previous years while cybercrimes have increased. He pointed out that the security situation in Syria in general has recovered and that police units were the first to enter liberated areas. He also explained that confessions are no longer regarded as primary sources of evidence since modern technological advancements assist in uncovering crimes. Confessions have generally been viewed as controversial given accusations that they may have been extracted under torture.

President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree to enforce the death sentences issued by the First Military Court in Damascus against two convicted criminals found guilty of murdering a mother and her three children outside Damascus during an aggravated robbery. The first defendant was found guilty of the felony of murder caused with intent to kill and the second defendant was found guilty of the felony of aiding and abetting the murders with intent to kill. Under Syria’s Criminal Code, death sentences must be confirmed by the President of the Republic.

International Relations

Syria blasted a proposed lawsuit against it by The Netherlands in the International Court of Justice, an organ of the United Nations that settles international law disputes between states. The Dutch government alleges that Syria is in breach of the UN Convention against Torture. The Netherlands had attempted to pursue legal action against Syrian government personnel in the International Criminal Court, which unlike the International Court of Justice, has the authority to impose criminal liability against individuals. The proposed measure to refer the Syria file to the International Criminal Court was blocked in the UN Security Council, whose approval is a mandatory precondition given that Syria does not recognize the authority or jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. As part of the process, The Netherlands has requested Syria to enter into settlement negotiations based on the Dutch government’s allegations and potentially arbitration if possible before the dispute is referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

OFAC is implementing new sanctions against 13 entities and six individuals, including the Governor of the Central Bank, rising businessmen and their companies, military and security personnel, and the Ministry of Tourism, mainly pursuant to Executive Order 13894.

Two factories that manufacture natural juice products have been licensed in Lattakia to private sector investors while a state-owned facility in the same industry has failed to attract private sector investment since it was advertised for such back in 2015.

Some US Senators are backing Lebanon’s call to purchase electricity from Syria without fear of consequences from the US Caesar Act, which threatens secondary sanctions.

President Bashar Al-Assad extended condolences to the new ruler of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah following the death of the late ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.