Kassioun Editorial 1120: A Real Opportunity
Over the last few days, the exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar in Syria has surpassed 8150 SYP to the dollar. A year earlier it was around 3900 SYP to the dollar and in April 2019 it was still under 600 SYP to the dollar. In parallel, the wages are still meager, and the prices of everything are rising at minimum at same percentage of increase in the exchange rate.
In the midst of the frantic international and regional political activity relating to Syria, and despite the cessation of military actions since mid-2019 through efforts of the Astana group, the only constant is that the situation of Syrians is rapidly deteriorating from bad to worse, which reveals three facts:
First: The extent of Syria’s vulnerability to Western sanctions is a reflection of the extent of our economic attachment to the West, or rather our economic dependence thereon over the past many years. The higher the link with the West, the higher the impact of its sanctions on us. In Russia, Iran, Cuba, and other Western-sanctioned countries, commodity prices do not change with changes in the exchange rate, and even if they change, they change slightly. For us, however, the Syrian pound has become merely a shadow of the dollar to the extent in which dollarization began to gradually turn into a legitimate and legalized process.
Second: The effect of sanctions and blockade multiplies as the size of the massive corruption controlling the joints of the state and the economic process multiplies, which in normal conditions drained the people, and now it has depleted them.
Third: Over all the past years, no serious action has been taken against the dominance of the dollar – except for some rhetoric. This reflects a specific mentality with no desire or interest to truly turn east and no interest in taking advantage of the opportunity of the major international transformations taking place.
Above all, “analysts” and “experts” appearing on official and semi-official media platforms have moved from talking about the country’s willingness to welcome returning refugees, to completely the opposite, saying that the country is not capable of doing so, and that refugees’ return is conditional on Arab and other countries paying money to Syria so it can receive them. As if the Syrian people and the entire world do not know that we have a black hole in Syria represented by the massive corruption that can swallow billions and tens of billions of dollars with high efficiency without any of it trickling to those Syrians who are the most needy.
If the above is the bleak side of the image, then its bright side is the following:
First: The work that Astana is doing to achieve a Syrian-Turkish settlement is ongoing around the clock, and no extremism nor any tricks will stand in its way. It will go all the way to the end represented not only by settling relations between the two countries, but also in reaching a comprehensive political solution on the basis of UNSC Resolution 2254. This was confirmed by every joint statement issued by the Astana group, in addition to the unilateral confirmations thereof, including the recent Russian and Turkish ones, through a statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister.
Second: Over the past years, the West, along with the Syrian extremists, and through the Arab who normalized with the Zionist entity, tried to circumvent the Astana track. This is done under slogans such as “changing the regime’s behavior”, “step for step”, and so on. After the Chinese-mediated Saudi-Iranian settlement, and after the Jeddah meeting in mid-April, the path has been cut off for normalizers with the Zionist entity, and they are currently being gradually reduced back to their normal size. Rather, work is underway to make it backfire by transforming the Arab cluster from a back door for the West against Astana, into an independent bloc that cooperates with Astana, and through Saudi Arabia in particular, to reach a comprehensive solution in Syria.
These circumstances, taken together, represent a real opportunity to stop the tragedy that Syrians are experiencing, and to open the door to reviving Syria. Seizing this opportunity requires radical changes and preparation for those changes. In the end, Syrians will not lose this opportunity, but it will be lost by the political forces that oppose it and do not know how to deal with it.
Of course, the fate of this or that political force, or this or that political party, is not important, but the more Syrian sides understand the opportunity at their disposal, the more it is possible to spare the Syrian people additional suffering; and this is the crux of the matter.