Starvation looms | “Skyrocketing prices in Syria related to regime’s “foolish” policy and escalating corruption,” say politicians
In the past two months food stuffs and basic products escalated dramatically in all zones of influence across Syria. Statistics have showed shocking facts about the worsening economic hardship in Syria, which has been affected by different crises all over the world an manifested in the increasing rate of poverty and sharp decline in purchasing power.
The Democratic Arab Socialist Union has described the situation of Syrian citizens as “tragic,” especially under the rule of authorities which claimed that “they have liberated the country from terrorism.” However, they have failed to liberate Syria from occupation and predomination of local and foreign militias. Moreover, those authorities have failed to secure food and decent standard of living for Syrians, according to the union which has stressed that the current crisis has been a definite result to the “foolish” policy of the regime’s government which aims at clamping down on civilians, using a set of unjust laws and decisions.
In an exclusive interview with SOHR, the leader in the Democratic Arab Socialist Union, Mohamed Hazzam has commented on the skyrocketing prices following announcement by the Internal Trade Ministry of the new price list of state-subsidised food supplies, which showed new prices paralleled the world prices and real cost of production. One example, among many, was the increase in the price of sugar, which affected the price of other products, such as infant formula.
The leader says, “the increase in prices in Syria is typically related to the ‘foolish’ policies of the regime and prevailing corruption in all state institutions. This increase is not related to the current crises and the siege and sanctions imposed in Syria. It is related to the policy adopted since the period of Hafez Al-Assad who drove Al-Baath Party to practice its authoritarianism and predominance.”
Hazzam has referred to the crises which Al-Baath Party created in the mid of the 1970s in consumer co-operative societies in front of which long lines of civilians combated to get a pack of tissues and a tin of ghee. He adds that this systematic policy has been adopted by the Syrian regime with the aim of distracting Syrians from its corruption, reaffirming that tampering with prices is not a by-product of the current crisis or the siege imposed on Syria.
“There is no doubt that the intervention by regional and international powers in Syria has left a significant effect on the Syrian society at all levels, while the current global crises, including energy and food crises due to the war in Ukraine, have affected those powers. Accordingly, the issue of ‘Iranian credit’ has come to the fore, where the Iranians attempt to replace the relative vacuum left by Russia, which is preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, through compensating the fuel shortage in Syria in return for transporting phosphate from Syria, via Baniyas harbour, so that Iran can remain close to ‘warm water,’ as well as opening a market for Iranian goods inside Syrian cities,” says Mohamed Hazzam.
The leader adds, “controlling the local market requires identifying a price list that is not related to the changing value of the US dollar and activating monitoring measures in order to prevent merchants from tampering with prices. Now, prices of basic products have increased to a level unaffordable by the many, as the incomes of most of the Syrians do not cover their needs. This issue is related to the role of the authorities which must work on saving civilians from this hardship through supporting the Syrian currency and improving its purchasing power through raising civilian incomes to a level meeting their needs.”
Hazzam has noted out that energy and food crises hitting the entire world and threatening many countries, including Syria, referring to the “useful message” which has to be discussed in order to save the current situation of Syrian civilians. According to Hazzam, this message or solution is manifested in nudging regional and international powers involved in the Syrian conflict to reach a consensus (share interests) in order to create the conditions for starting a political settlement. Specifically, the solution is in the hand of those powers, and they are the only ones who can decide when military operations will be discontinued and rebel formations will be disbanded, in accordance with the International Resolution No. 2254. They can also activate the political path and empower the Constitutional Committee to form a credible transitional government with full executive powers, so that a civil democratic country can be reached and fulfil demands calling for freedom, dignity and social justice. He adds, “after that comes the turn of the national opposition which should turn to communicating with humanitarian organisations through the United Nations to organise the entry of humanitarian assistance and monitoring the distribution of incoming batches, especially since most the civilians inside Syria are in need to this assistance, on condition that the distribution of assistance to be carried out away from the control of the Syrian regime which takes over more than a half of batches delivered to Syria and distribute them to its army, at a time when the regime authorities are unable to secure food and salaries for soldiers.”
On the other hand, the leader and Assistant Secretary-General of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union, Ahmed Zaki Huwaidi has told SOHR that the situation in Syria is chronic, and it is neither related to the decline in goods delivery all over the world nor the war in Ukraine, referring to the fact that the war and the regime’s failed governance are the most major reasons behind this tragic situation. The tyrannical regime has pillaged the resources of the country under a systematic policy designed to destroying Syria and led by the policy of arresting every civilian criticising, in a tweet or a post on social media, the policy of starving and impoverishment of civilians to drive them to immigration.
Huwaidi has noted out that intransigence by Al-Assad’s regime towards a political settlement based on international resolutions is the main reason behind the current stifling economic hardship which has plagued all Syrian people.
Huwaidi says, “at the domestic level, the Syrian crisis has led to disastrous consequences because of authoritarianism and dictatorship which are the cornerstone of the regime structure and its governing policies. Such policies have led to the death of hundreds of thousands, left tens of thousands others imprisoned and forcibly disappeared, forced millions to displace and immigrate, produced destruction and split of Syrian society and dreadful economic situation with most of the Syrian being struggling just to survive. There are no entry points to break the deadlock except through establishing a national democratic regime adopting a policy based on the political pluralism and diversity and establishing the state of citizenship which aims at creating a society enjoying individual and collective democratic freedom and works on serving the interests of people and preserving their rights.”
Observers are concerned about a looming starvation in Syria in light of the ongoing violence, security disorder and attempts to divide the country, as well as the predominance of occupying powers on most of Syria’s geography and resources.
It is worth noting that the prohibitively high prices, which left most of the Syrians unable to secure their basic needs, has forced many to sell their properties at low prices with the aim of immigrating to Europe, fleeing death, poverty and oppression in their homeland.
Describing the situation in Syria, the United Nations has stated that “Syria is walking into the abyss in light of the chronic economic and social malaise and escalating violence.”