Syria and the war on Ukraine .. “Al-Cub” mocks Syrians, and “Who is betting on whom?”
The “positions of support” launched by Syrian regime officials to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine have followed in the past days, and at a time when the regime’s president, Bashar al-Assad, considered what is happening to be a “correction of history,” his special advisor, Luna al-Shibl, went further, expressing Damascus’ readiness. to help Russia overcome sanctions.
These statements, made by Al-Shibl to the Russian “Sputnik” agency, on Monday, sparked ridicule among the Syrians, which was reflected during the past hours on social networking sites, and while some indicated that they came in a “funny context”, others asked, “Who is betting on whom?” .
The paradox comes in the speech of al-Assad’s adviser, that the Syrian regime has been subject to European and American sanctions for years, which resulted in its isolation internationally and internally within its areas of influence only, while about 90 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, according to statements by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, On the 12th of last January.
Apart from that, Russia is one of the most prominent and strongest allies of the Syrian regime, headed by Bashar al-Assad, and since 2015 it has provided it with military, logistical and political support, which has helped to a large extent in keeping it coherent in the face of the blows it received first from what was previously known as the formations of the “Free Syrian Army”. .
Hence, questions arise about: Who has the ability to help the other? And what did Al-Shibl want from her speech, which has reached the position of “Assad’s Special Adviser”, since December 2020, after which she was remarkably active on the Syrian media speaking on behalf of the Syrian regime on the one hand, and Russian media outlets, including “Russia Today Channel” and “Riya Agency” RIA Novosti and Sputnik.
“Hunger threatens and Assad does not care”
And the Syrian regime, after nearly half a century of rule by the Assad family, has left the country in ruins, killing and displacing millions, eliminating the Syrian economy, and making it into a cycle of civil war for a decade.
The residents of Damascus, which is considered the oldest capital in history, is facing a stifling crisis in the provision of bread and fuel, which is the most severe crisis in the country’s history, according to reports by Syrian media and others published by the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” repeatedly, during the past two years.
According to the Observatory, since September of 2019, the regime in Syria began distributing bread through the “smart card”, after rushing to buy food, which has become more like unavailable commodities.
The purchase quantities for families are determined by allocating a “bread bundle” for a family of two, two bundles for a family of four, three bundles for families of 5 to 6 members, and four bundles for families of 7 members.
12.4 million Syrians already suffer from food insecurity, and they face difficulty in obtaining their basic meal, according to data from the World Food Programme.
This number constitutes nearly 60 percent of the country’s population, and has increased by an “astounding” 4.5 million people during the past year alone, while another 1.8 million people are at risk of food insecurity “unless urgent humanitarian action is taken”.
In an interview with Al-Hurra, observers indicated that the Syrian regime “has so far failed to manage the living crisis that hits the citizens in the country,” and far from taking any remedial decisions, it had exacerbated the problem with a decision issued, a month ago, to the effect that his government would raise government support. For basic materials needed by many segments of society.
This decision resulted in protests whose repercussions are still continuing in the Syrian governorate of As-Suwayda in southern Syria, where citizens demand the cancellation of this decision, which would crush the weak class that only cares about the day in securing bread and fuel.
Belt tightening after the Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, days before Luna al-Shibl’s statements, the state-owned news agency said that the Syrian government decided to cut spending, in an attempt to reduce the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for fear of sharply rising oil and wheat prices.
SANA reported that after an extraordinary cabinet meeting, officials decided to manage the reserves of basic materials such as wheat, sugar, cooking oil and rice for the next two months, and closely monitor the distribution of commodities and their rationing.
Economy Minister Muhammad Samer Khalil said that Crimea had offered to export wheat to Syria. “The Syrian government is studying the offer,” he said.
For its part, SANA reported that the government also decided to closely monitor the exchange rate and “legalize public spending in a way that covers only the priorities during this period.”
Struggling after more than a decade of war, Syria relies mostly on wheat imports from Russia and oil shipments from its other ally, Iran.
With Russia’s bombing of Ukraine last week, the Syrian regime saw signs of danger in rising oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic and wholesale prices for heating fuel, wheat and other commodities soaring.
The Syrian expert and economic advisor, Osama al-Qadi, says: “If the Syrian regime government could help 90 percent of the poor in Syria, provide bread, fuel, a safe investment environment, motivate industrialists instead of displacing them, and reach its oil wells and Syria’s resources, it would have alleviated any A country that is part of the sanctions imposed on it.
In an interview with Al-Hurra, the judge explains that “Syria is itself under sanctions, and suffers both ways. The truth is that what Luna Al-Shibl spoke about is an insult to Russia.”
Al-Shibl’s statements come “as a message from a person who does not have any real executive position,” according to Al-Qadi, who continues: “This means mocking the Russian government and detracting from its regime, which did not originally provide the Syrian government with the oil and wheat needed for the people who are in its area of influence and under its control.”
Al-Hurra contacted political analysts from the capital, Damascus, to comment on the controversial statements made by al-Assad’s advisor, but they refused, on the pretext that the conversation was attributed to a person who “is not the decision-maker”, in reference to her position as “adviser.”
The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, said on Friday: “What is happening today is a correction of history and a restoration of balance to the world that it lost after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”
For her part, his advisor, Buthaina Shaaban, considered in an interview with the “Syrian News” channel, Monday, that “the West did not abide by its commitments about NATO expansion to the east, and Russia had no other choice.”
The same applies to Al-Shibl, who also told the Russian agency that “the West will suffer from the blockade imposed on Russia more than Moscow itself.”
‘sarcasm and negative influence’
Over the past seven years of the Syrian war, Russia has worked to make itself an active party in various files, whether militarization on the ground or the political track such as the “Astana” or “Sochi” talks and the “Constitutional Committee”.
In addition, it controlled various economic sectors, while it controlled ports, oil and phosphate fields, and others, with long-term contracts that Syrians see as “bills instead of those they paid for their intervention to support al-Assad.”
Commenting on the statements of the Assad adviser, Rami Al-Shaer, a political analyst based in Moscow and close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, indicated that the question posed by “Sputnik” came within a formula as follows: “Will you participate in efforts to overcome sanctions, as Russia and Belarus do?” Al-Shibl replied, “Of course, Russia certainly stood with us, and we will stand with it without hesitation.”
In an interview with Al-Hurra, the poet expressed surprise at what he described as “the decline in the professional performance of the Sputnik reporter, due to his publication of statements and answers by Syrian officials with these contents, to be received by the Syrian people with irony.”
The political analyst talked about “the international impact of Al-Cub’s talk, which will negatively affect Russia,” as he put it, adding: “These statements serve the Western campaign against Russia.”
Al-Shaer explains that “if the leadership in Damascus does not start any signs of implementing the outputs of the Astana and Geneva resolutions regarding the stages of implementing UN Resolution 2254, Syria will remain a burden on Russia, the size of which is increasing daily.”
And the political analyst added, “Doesn’t the Sputnik reporter understand this thing in order to bet on the possibility of Syria, in its current tragic situation, in helping the super nuclear power Russia, or is he convinced of the ideas that Russian officials have recently said that the credit goes to Syria for Russia’s return to its influential international position on the international scene.”
Against the backdrop of its invasion of Ukraine, the United States further isolated Moscow and dealt a severe blow to its economy by imposing sanctions on the Russian Central Bank and other sources that may constitute one of President Vladimir Putin’s greatest weaknesses.
And experts told the New York Times on Tuesday that the Americans and Europeans, through these sanctions, are targeting one of Putin’s biggest weaknesses. country’s currency.
Even before the sanctions were announced at the weekend, the ruble had fallen in value. And the currency’s decline deepened, on Monday, when it hit 120 rubles to the dollar, as analysts told the newspaper that the new sanctions are expected to crush the country’s economy.
The Syrian journalist and writer, Ayman Abdel Nour, does not believe that Luna Al-Shibl’s statements came “by joking”, considering that they are “correct”.
Abdel Nour told Al-Hurra: “The Syrian people live below the poverty line because the Syrian regime also wants them to spend most of their time securing their needs instead of discussing political issues.”
The Syrian regime is also “taking advantage of the above to bring in a lot of aid, and then distribute it to its pillars. It is a profitable operation,” according to the Syrian writer.
He added, “What Al-Shibl meant is that Syria can, through its experience, form networks of dealers and associates to secure prohibited goods, secure money laundering, and continue the flow of cash, whether by payment or capture (import and export).
Abdel Nour said that “the Syrian regime has developed various networks of Lebanese, Iraqis and Egyptians, and in all countries of the world these networks can cover its needs, and perhaps the needs of the ruling class in Russia.”
Syrian regime officials have always said in separate statements to them that Syria was able to break part of the sanctions, but this did not eliminate the negative repercussions on the Syrian economy.
On January 16, the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, Mahdi Sobhani, said that relations between Iran and Syria are at a high and excellent level, stressing that his country is “ready to transfer its experiences in facing sanctions to Syria.”
Iran is one of al-Assad’s most prominent allies alongside Russia, and Sobhani noted: “We have experience in dealing with all kinds of embargoes and pressures, as we have faced a large number of unjust economic embargoes imposed by the United States against our people, so we are ready to transfer our long experience in confronting the embargo.” to Syria”.
For his part, Abdel Nour says that the assistance that the regime talked about regarding easing sanctions on Russia is “impossible to meet all the needs of the latter, because the pressure on it is enormous.”