Syriatel… A “Tax Issue”?
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 Syriatel and Rami Makhlouf (its board of directors’ chairperson) issue and his failure to pay the financial dues owed to the state are still active and in the spotlight. While the media outlets – those considered “opposition”, “loyal”, and non-Syrian – are flooded with analyses of every shade and color. We recognize visible attempts to use the issue to promote three major illusions, with the aim of concealing one essential truth.
The first illusion is that the whole issue reflects a sectarian conflict and division within the ruling elites; there is no “better” cover than the sectarian one to mislead people and conceal facts.
The second illusion is that the “Rami issue” reflects an Iranian-Russian conflict; within this illusion, we see several conflicting stories – sometimes, Rami is “Russian” and at other times “Iranian”, depending on the mood of the author.
The third illusion is that what the “government” is doing with Syriatel is a big step in the “anti-corruption process”; this decades-old process, the result of which has always and forever been that corruption was getting bigger and bigger, getting deeper, and increasingly devouring people’s livelihood and hard work day-after-day.
The attempt to delude people that the fight against corruption has started with the collection of unpaid dues from Syriatel, which can be included under the category of “tax evasion”, is a very miserable attempt. Corruption in Syria is corruption of the entire system, corruption that is large, vicious, controls all aspects of the state, and cannot in any way be uprooted by the hands who benefit from it, but exclusively by those who are harmed by it – that is, by the Syrian people and through a political solution.
Syriatel is merely one example of the corruption of the system, and this corruption is not limited to not paying the state’s dues or delay in payment thereof, but rather since its creation and signing the contract with it until that same contract was abandoned in 2015 to prevent the transfer of full ownership to the state, and by a government decision – that is, the “government” volunteered legitimizing the theft of state property, and publicly.
The fundamental truth that the aforementioned illusions seek to hide has two basic aspects. The first is that the creation and journey of Syriatel are expressions of the essence of neo-liberal socio-economic relations that are based on two fixed and inseparable pillars: major corruption internally accompanied by sabotage of all real production and economic dependence (that was and still is) on the West.
The second aspect is that the illusions are merely an indication that the great corruption figures – and because they are certain that the full implementation of UNSCR 2254 is within a stone’s throw with all the major changes that will come with it – have started a process of high wealth concentration, as a basic tool (from their point of view) both at the current stage (to disrupt and delay the solution), or in a subsequent stage, for political activity and to try to maintain hegemony over the directions of future development of Syria.
To sum thing up, Syriatel is not a “tax issue”, but rather a socio-economic and political issue in its essence, as is the case with great corruption as a whole. Its solution will not be by replacing plunderers with other plunderers, but by eradicating the entire pillaging segment, which has stolen, impoverished, and destroyed the state and the people for decades, hand in hand with the Western sabotage and plundering in its various forms, whether it appeared during the years of the crisis, sanctions, and terrorism, or what had appeared before that in different forms and names.
Kassioun Editorial, Issue No. 965, May 11, 2020