It’s Only the Tip of the Iceberg!
Media platforms were frenzied over the past few days with the issue of Syriatel’s Chairman, Rami Makhlouf, and his failure to pay the financial dues owed to the state.
The first thing that should be taken into consideration when dealing with this issue is that what some people are trying to market as dealing with Syriatel and the owner of the largest stake therein – and the owner of multiple large properties inside Syria and abroad – as an “administrative” dealing with a form of corruption represented by tax evasion, is superfluous and worthless. This is also not convincing to any Syrian, and it is nothing more than an attempt to vent and preoccupy people with the tip of the iceberg that has surfaced, in exchange for continuing to hide the deep roots of that iceberg, which spread in all directions, all the way to the core.
The contract through which the two cell phone companies in Syria monopolized cell communications in Syria was, from the outset, a monopoly and unjust contract against the state and the right of the official telecommunications institution. In clearer terms, the contract permitted official looting of public money, “legitimized” and “legal” looting. In Kassioun, in a statement issued on 25 February 2011, the People’s Will Party (the National Committee for the Unity of the Syrian Communists, at the time) called for the immediate nationalization of the two cell phone companies as a measure within an integrated package to prevent the eruption of the crisis in Syria.
This plundering took on a more blatant form in 2015 when the government extended the company’s contract, changed the contract’s type, and reduced the government’s return from it, while the full ownership of the two companies was supposed to be transferred to the state in accordance with the original BOT contract.
If certain political circumstances and a high degree of tension within the system of great corruption within the Syrian regime have pushed at this moment for revealing the cards of some, and although this matter is beneficial in itself, what should be clear is that “combatting corruption” as an empty slogan, will not be realized by settling matters between the big heads of corruption, and for the benefit of the big heads of corruption.
The deep corruption within the existing system, even if it takes a clear form in issues like that of Syriatel, nevertheless extends to all other sectors and appears in two very clear issues:
On the economic side, through continuing the brutal liberal economic policies favoring the group of the big corrupt figures against the interests of the entire Syrian people, which we see in all aspects of economic life including bread, wheat, sugar, and others, especially by taking advantage of Western sanctions to bill the Syrian people manifold the cost, which goes into the pockets of local and western brokers. This is occurring in parallel with exploiting the slogan of “turning east” in the economic sense, the opposite of which is being applied in reality, and in the interest of the corruption mafias.
On the political side, major corruption is manifested in organized action against the political solution, through the use of various types of arguments, excuses, and tools, including maximizing social and security tension in multiple parts of the country.
The only way to effectively eradicate the great corruption from its roots is through deep and comprehensive radical national change, and through the full implementation of UNSCR 2254, which would allow the afflicted, oppressed, and ransacked Syrians, who constitute up to 95% of the population, to decide their own destiny and for their own interest.