Stifling fuel crisis | Sever shortage of diesel triggers public anger and discontent in SDF-controlled areas
Areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration in Aleppo, Al-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor provinces are experiencing sever shortage of diesel, while long queues of vehicles are seen awaiting in front of petrol stations on a daily basis. The worsening crisis has triggered public anger and resentment, especially since the price of subsidised diesel, which is sold at petrol station when it is available, has increased from 85 SYP to 410 SYP per litre in only two months and a half. Also, the price of diesel which is sold on black markets has increased from 450 SYP to 1,250 SYP per litre.
According to SOHR sources, the shortage of diesel is attributed to the corruption of some officials in charge of fuel affairs in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, as these officials loot subsidised diesel and sell it at higher prices to merchants on black markets instead of distributing it fairly to petrol stations. In addition, smuggling of fuel to regime-controlled areas and areas under the control of Turkish-backed factions has exacerbated the situation further.
On June 13, SOHR published a report which read “areas controlled by the Autonomous Administrations in north and east Syria have experienced popular discontent due to the high prices of diesel and petrol and running out of fuel in most petrol stations.
People have expressed their rejection of the spike in fuel prices up to 1,200 SYP and called on Autonomous Administration to illustrate and reveal the reasons for the soaring prices and the lack of fuel at petrol stations, especially as the new rise in fuel prices is not based on an official decision by fuel directorate of the Autonomous Administration.
Speaking to SOHR, a civilian known by his initials as H. Q. and living in Antariyah neighbourhood says that people face difficulties to obtain fuel, especially bus drivers, and they suffer from exploitation by some petrol station owners who manipulate prices, amid the lack of oversight by officials.
“The cost of subsidised diesel hits 1,200 SYP per litre, while the price of a litre of petrol reaches 710 SYP at “Media” petrol station,” the man added.
The civilian asserts that the fuel crisis will worsen further, as factories, workshops, and bread bakeries rely on fuel, and as the price of fuel rises, the prices of all goods will increase, which will negatively impact production and consumers.
A civilian known by his initials as S. A. says, “the prices of diesel are reasonable in Al-Falahin station in Al-Qamishli and Al-Asdiqaa station in Al-Hasakah hitting 410 SYP per litre, however, these stations are very crowded, and the drivers are forced to queue for long hours.
“Drivers need ’nepotism’ to obtain just a few litres of diesel or petrol, prompting them to buy fuel on black markets at a very high price,” the civilian added.
A taxi driver known by his initials as J. A. confirms that the majority of drivers in Al-Qamishli city suffer from fuel shortages.
The taxi driver points out that Al-Qamishili city witnessed fuel crises in the past months, saying “a fuel crisis hit Al-Qamishili city in May, when the fuel department of the Autonomous Administration raised fuel prices by 300 %, triggering public anger and protests there.
“The protestors called for reducing fuel prices, as the region is the major source of oil production. Instead of finding workable solutions that reduce civilian burdens, the officials have deepened and exacerbated the fuel crisis further,” said J. A.
The civilian also appealed to the relevant authorities to release an official statement to clarify the latest increase in fuel prices and impose fuel prices cap, taking into account the needs and dire living conditions of the people, and to monitor predatory pricing by the owners of petrol stations to prevent fuel price gouging, monopoly and exploitation.
Although areas under the control of Autonomous Administration in north and east Syria are rich in oil wells, these areas are occasionally hit by fuel shortages which ignite popular protests, with no solution looms.”