The fall of the Turkish Lira has been slowing leading to a food crisis in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib that is ruled by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
In mid-2020, HTS’ Salvation Government, who controls all civil matters in Greater Idlib, abandoned Syrian Pound, which was declining at the time, in favor of Turkish Lira. While the step was promoted as a measure to shield the region from the economic crisis in the rest of Syria, it was in fact meant to further separate the region from the country.
Turkey’s military presence in the region, which grew significantly in mid-2020, was also one of the reasons that encouraged HTS to rely more on the Turkish Lira.
The step began to backfire in the second half of 2021, which saw the Turkish Lira losing most of value. As of December 15, a single US Dollar reached 14.74 Turkish lira.
As a result of the Turkish Lira collapse, the prices of bread and other basics in Greater Idlib soared. People in the region, many of whom are displaced, began to struggle just to secure their next meal.
HTS, who maintains a monopoly over all economic sectors in Greater Idlib, faced much criticism. In response, the Salvation Government began subsidizing bread in November. Abu Mohamad al-Julani, leader of HTS, announced the step personally in order to take credit.
However, the plan was a failure. Bread prices in Greater Idlib are still among the highest in Syria. Furthermore, HTS supply chain failed to cover the needs of everyone in the region. On December 14 and 15, activists shared footage showing people waiting in long lines to buy subsidizing bread in different parts of Greater Idlib.
This is happening as UN aid crosses the border & humanitarian organizations are receiving massive international support. Footages from activists pic.twitter.com/QPVailShvP
— Harun al-Aswad (@harun_alaswad) December 14, 2021
حدا يعمل تاغ لحكومة الإنقاذ !! pic.twitter.com/sBSaItTabO
— همام عيسى (@humam_isa) December 15, 2021
The UN provides much humanitarian aid to Greater Idlib. Dozens of aid trucks enter the region every month from Turkey, or government-held areas. Yet, the people appear to be getting very little.
HTS also maintains a strict over humanitarian work in Greater Idlib. The terrorist group makes sure that most of the humanitarian aid that enter the war-torn region end up in the hands of its fighters, especially those working in its security forces.
The humanitarian situation in Greater Idlib will not likely improve as long as HTS and its front, the Salvation Government, are in control. The terrorist group’s disastrous economic policies and cartel-like mentality are the main reasons behind the growing food crisis in the region.