ALEPPO — Protests have occurred in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib in current days towards the so-called Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), which is affiliated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). HTS controls the province. Protesters are calling on the federal government to supply fundamental providers to the province and cut back the costs of products and gasoline, specifically fuel and diesel.
Dozens of protesters gathered Oct. 15 in al-Saa Square in central Idlib metropolis to precise their anger over the rise in costs of most simple items. They raised banners with slogans comparable to “We are drowning in your salvation,” criticizing the SSG and its efficiency. Other slogans, to call just some, included “No to inflation and corruption,” “Stop playing with people and robbing them,” “Keep the price of oxygen tanks down” and “Salvation Government sinking the ship.”
Some protesters, wearing personal protective equipment amid the spread of COVID-19 in the area, denounced the living conditions as unbearable amidst the skyrocketing cost of living.
Protesters hold responsible the corrupt officials and traders who abuse power and are supporting citizens.
The HTS-affiliated company Watad raised fuel prices Oct. 13 for the fifth time in a month, ignoring deteriorating living conditions in Idlib. The price of a gas cylinder for households increased from 108.50 Turkish liras (approximately $12) to 114 Turkish liras ($13). Watad had previously raised the price of a cylinder from 99.5 Turkish liras (approximately $11) to 108.5 Turkish liras (approximately $12) on Oct. 9.
The exchange rate of the dollar reached 9.36 Turkish liras on Oct. 18, according to Doviz.com, which lists live exchange rates in Turkey.
Syrian families in Idlib suffer from the inability to make ends meet. Markets are seeing an unprecedented rise in food and fuel prices, as people also face high unemployment, high rent fees and a reduction in humanitarian support. Meanwhile, the SSG continues to impose royalties and taxes, and their proceeds go to the HTS treasury.
One of the protesters who took part in the demonstrations against the HTS government told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “As a Syrian national living in Idlib, I call on the SSG to resign immediately. I ask for a new government that cares about poor people like me. Life here is no longer bearable, and if this failed government remains in power, the situation will get worse.”
Mahmoud Issa, one other protester, informed Al-Monitor, “HTS should stop oppressing people and taking their livelihoods. Their government only imposes taxes for sanitary products, cars, food and fuel. Yet it fails to complete its duties as a government and provides no support to services such as education, health, provision of bread and others.”
Issa added, “Children in some households sleep hungry. Their fathers cannot afford bread because the monthly salary is no longer enough to cover a family’s needs for half a month. Thousands of men cannot find work, and they eagerly wait for aid baskets (from nongovernmental organizations) to survive. The region is struggling with unemployment.”
Amid the protests, the SSG’s Minister of Economy Bassel Abdul Aziz tried to justify the rise in commodity costs. Abdul Aziz was quoted on the federal government’s official web site on Oct. 16 as saying, “There are two main reasons for the continued rise in prices in northern Syria. The first reason is the global increase in energy and commodity prices. The second reason is the depreciation of the Turkish lira, which has lost more than 22% of its value since the beginning of this year. The dollar was worth about 7.5 Turkish liras, but today, its value reached the limits of 9.2 Turkish liras.”
Abdul Aziz additionally stated the bakery sector in Idlib was largely affected by the depreciation of the Turkish lira, in addition to the rise within the worth of imported flour in current months resulting from droughts that hit main wheat exporters.
According to Abdul Aziz, the worth of a ton of flour rose to about $380, and the import charge is 82%. Local wheat crops don’t exceed 18% of consumption, which suggests overseas markets exert management.
Abdul Aziz stated the current rise in crude oil and fuel costs to document ranges negatively affected northern Syria. Prices of oil derivatives imported from Turkey elevated after Turkish corporations raised costs as the worth of the Turkish lira continued to drop.
A report printed Sept. 14 by the Humanitarian Needs Assessment Program, the United Nations Development Program, and the Early Recovery and Livelihoods Program for northwest Syria revealed Syrians are experiencing excessive financial deprivation.