Protests have erupted in government-held areas of southern Syria as anger grows over the crashing Syrian pound and the deteriorating economic conditions in the war-torn country. The rare demonstrations currently limited to southern Syria are far from government strongholds and major cities. These protests come in the wake of President Bashar Assad’s decision to double public sector wages and pensions, which has led to inflation and exacerbated the economic hardships faced by many Syrians. With the value of the Syrian pound plummeting, the situation has become dire for the majority of the population.
The Syrian pound has seen a significant decline in value, with the U.S. dollar now trading at 15,000 pounds compared to 7,000 at the beginning of the year. This economic downturn is a result of years of conflict, corruption, mismanagement, and international sanctions on the government. The recent decision to increase wages and pensions has further strained the cash-strapped government, forcing them to restructure expensive fuel, gasoline, and wheat subsidy programs. As a consequence, public transport and fuel fares have skyrocketed, worsening the economic situation for ordinary Syrians.
The protests have been concentrated in the southern city of Sweida, home to the Druze minority, and the nearby province of Daraa, which is often considered the birthplace of Syria’s uprising 13 years ago. The sporadic protests in Sweida against government corruption have escalated into violence, while Daraa, which came under government control in 2018, has witnessed high crime rates and clashes between militias.
Protesters in Sweida have closed main roads, including the one leading to the local headquarters of Assad’s ruling Baath party. The demonstrations have been met with chants of “We only kneel to God” by protesters, who have been joined by Druze clerics. Meanwhile, in Daraa province, protesters have marched in various villages, calling for the downfall of Assad’s government and the expulsion of Iranian influence from the region. Iran has been a key backer of Assad, tipping the balance of power in his favor.
The economic crisis has had a devastating impact on the Syrian population. The United Nations estimates that 90% of Syrians in government-held areas live in poverty, and over half of the country’s 12 million people struggle to afford food. The situation is dire, with many Syrians finding it increasingly difficult to put food on the table.
As protests continue to rock government-held areas in southern Syria, the economic crisis shows no signs of abating. The crash of the Syrian pound and the dwindling purchasing power of the population has pushed many to the brink of poverty. The government’s decision to increase wages and pensions has only exacerbated the situation, leading to inflation and further economic hardship. The international community must take note of the dire humanitarian situation in Syria and work towards finding a sustainable solution to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
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