Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the suffering of the Syrian citizens has not only been from the threat of fighting throughout the various parts of Syria, but also from the different economic and social aspects of the crisis. In some areas and situations these aspects exceeded the real battles in terms of harming the Syrian population. Syria turned, within one year, from the cheapest and safest country in the world to the most dangerous and expensive one.
Since 2011, the economy has been affected by the escalation in most of Syria. At first, the deterioration took the form of a slight rise in the prices of gold and the US dollar which led to a limited rise in the cost of everything in Syria. However, in 2012, the Syrian economy began to collapse faster for several reasons, the most important of which:
- The siege of the industrial capital of Syria – Aleppo and the destruction of all industrial areas and the robbing of many factories and smuggling the loot to Turkey by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
- The control of the FSA and Al-Nusra Front over most of the Syrian gas and oil fields in Hasakah, Homs and Deir Ezzour and starting the illegal oil trade with Turkey.
- The US and European sanctions, which illogically included all sectors of the Syrian economy, including even the health sector.
- The isolation of the agricultural Hasakah province from the rest of the government-held areas by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Al-Nusra Front.
Because of the facts mentioned above, the value of the Syrian pound dropped tenfold during the six years of war. In addition to it, the destruction or occupation of the sources of raw materials and the industrial zones, led to the collapse of the Syrian industry almost completely which meant mainly relying on imports to provide the needs of the Syrians which also reflected negatively on the value of the Syrian currency and raised the cost of living in Syria more than 10 times.
Today, Syria relies mainly on imports from Russia, Iran, China and India.
The Syrian government has also obtained many credit lines for the import of basic goods by the Iranian and Russian governments in particular.
The absence of a fair tax system has led to the growth of the wealth of some Syrian traders, as well as the absence of a fair wage system in the private sector, and the absence of any controls on the import and pricing of commodities that are not considered essential, such as smartphones and other industrial or agricultural products.
Price inflation included all sectors from food products to industrial ones, and the rise in prices has reached imaginary levels in the residential and automobile sectors where some used cars in cost 150 thousand dollars.
In some areas, an average apartment can cost 1-2 million dollars, making buying a home almost impossible for the larger proportion of Syrians.
The economic situation also deteriorates because of the US and European sanctions and the encouragement of the Turkish mafia to illegally trade in Syria. People escaping from the poor economic situation in Syria constitute a notable part of the asylum seekers in Europe.
For the Syrians, the immigration options are just a few, as Syrians are not allowed to enter most countries of the world legally, forcing them to follow illegal methods such as forging passports or smuggling by the sea or land.
Syrians are even banned from obtaining residence in Lebanon.
Iran, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia, and China are among the very few countries that still receive Syrians legally for work or study purposes.
Syria has a compulsory recruitment system in the Syrian Arab Army, where every Syrian male above 18 must serve for 24 months or 18 months in case he has a university degree. The compulsory service includes all different religions and races with the exception of Jews due to their sensitivity to the fact that Israel is the main enemy of the Syrian Army, and Palestinian refugees serve in the Palestinian Liberation Army.
If the family has only one son, he is exempt from military service, or one of the children may not serve in the army if all his brothers are conscripts or in the reserve military service.
In 2012, with the escalation of attacks by the Al-Nusra Front and the FSA, the numbers in the SAA has declined significantly due to the loss of many areas in eastern and northern Syria and the large losses in the ranks of the formation.
However, the government quickly undertook a series of emergency steps, including making the service of the soldier in the same governorate, allowing the possibility of contracting reservists.
The Syrian government allowed former Syrian army veterans and former officers the possibility of establishing combat groups belonging to the Republican Guard, the 4th Division, the Military Intelligence, or the Air Force Intelligence, as well as the establishment of the National Defense Force of civilians. These steps led to a major recovery in the manpower of the Syrian army, especially in 2015 when the Syrian army began to regain control of large territories and the return of many former defectors the army.
The areas of control of the government and the Syrian army are relatively safe areas for a country in a state of war, as these territories are the only ones that still include the Syrians from various religious and ethnic groups and allow everyone to move, work and study without any restrictions.
Grad rockets and mortars, which are often used by the Free Syrian Army, are the main threat to the civilians in areas such as the city of Aleppo city in the past, and right now the northern Hama countryside.
Suicide attacks by terrorist organizations such as ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front are another threat to civilians in all government-held areas.
Most of the strategic roads controlled by the Syrian government witness a heavy presence of barriers and checkpoints such as the roads of: Homs-Damascus, Athriya-Khanasir-Aleppo, Damascus-Suwieda, Damascus-Daraa. Whereas the barriers are significantly reduced within the cities, and many of the governorates controlled by the government are now completely free of barriers, thus easing the movement of Syrians in their daily lives significantly, thanks to the great efforts of the intelligence against the sleeping cells of the HTS and ISIS. The Syrian intelligence relies on ambushes and raids to prevent any terrorist attacks, and although there is no complete safety, the security situation is improving gradually.
Before the crisis, most Syrians worked in the public sector and put great pressure on the Syrian budget. However, after 6 years of war, most Syrians are working in the private sector or private small businesses, and the growth of the private sector and the increase in the productivity of the Syrian citizens indicate that the Syrian economy can recover quickly in the post-war phase.
The Syrian economy witnessed a slight improvement after the liberation of Aleppo, the opening of the road linking Hasakah and Aleppo through the eastern Aleppo countryside and Manbaj, and the restoration of control over most of the Syrian gas fields.
It is expected that the economy will witness a greater improvement in the event of return of the Iraqi-Syrian border to work, and the capture of the large oil fields in Deir Ezzour by the SAA, which will enable the Syrian government to reduce its expenses significantly, allowing to accelerate the reconstruction process with the participation of Syria’s main allies – Russia, China and Iran.