Western efforts to sway Assad have been limited to economic sanctions and diplomatic actions, such as condemning Assad and calling for him to step down from power. According to Reuters, European governments will announce an embargo on Syrian oil imports next week, which will deal a strong economic blow to the regime. About 90 percent of Syrian crude oil is exported to the European Union, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The US and several European countries have been struggling to pass a United Nations resolution imposing sanctions on Assad and 22 other Syrian officials, but China and Russia, who hold veto powers, have blocked their efforts, BBC reports. Russia said an Aug. 3 UN Security Council statement condemning the violence was an adequate response.
Russia and China also voted against a UN Human Rights Council resolution earlier this week calling for an investigation into the violence, but it still passed with 33 votes.
The head of Syria's Central Bank, Adib Mayeleh, told AFP that the sanctions are beginning to have an effect in Syria and they will soon have to "tighten our belts." According to Mr. Mayaleh, the country's monetary reserves stand at $17.7 billion – down $800 million from mid-March, when protests began.