The EU has tightened oil sanctions on Syria after the government started a fresh wave of crack-downs on dissent in the country. All imports of Syrian oil into the EU have now been banned. However, political risk consultancy firm AKE expects that al-Assad will remain in power so long as he has the support and direction of his inner circle.
The EU is the country’s largest export market for oil, taking around 95% of the country’s exports. Oil also accounts for around 25% of Syria’s income. The US has already banned the import of the product and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on 1 September for strong new sanctions targeting Syria's energy sector.
The aim of Washington is to deny the regime the revenues that it says fund its campaign of violence.
The EU has also added four more government officials and three groups to its list of those affected by a travel ban and asset freeze. The move is aimed at demonstrating the EU’s support for change in the country. It is also an attempt to weaken President al-Assad as much as possible, short of supporting military action in the country.