While there is a general consensus that the uprising gripping Syria since March 2011 is part of the broader regional movement for better governance and more freedoms, there has been little debate as to the extent to which the economic and social conditions prevailing in the country contributed to the uprising. The question of whether Syrians revolted because of their thirst for freedom, justice and dignity or whether they did so because of their poor economic and social conditions remains, however, important if one wants to understand the reasons that led to the uprising and produce viable economic reconstruction plans.
The Syrian government is using its many remaining allies of the emerging world to try to reduce the financial constraints weighing on it.
Price levels in Syria vary enormously depending on where one lives, on the intensity of the violence in that area, on the ease of distributing and transporting goods there or on its political or strategic importance for the central government. Thus while inflation officially stood at around 36 percent in June, this should be read only as a broad indicator rather than a reflection of the actual levels of inflation across the country.
It took almost a full year before Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city by population, became an active part of the popular uprising that began engulfing the country in March 2011; but when it did, events very quickly took a violent turn. This summer has seen thousands killed in armed clashes and bombings, more than 200,000 inhabitants are estimated to have fled the city and several districts are being levelled under daily bombardment. ‘Normal life’ is at an almost total standstill throughout the metropolis.
Although now is apparently the time for destruction in Syria, hopefully, the time for reconstruction is not far off. While it is difficult to estimate the actual cost of the damage inflicted to the country’s physical infrastructure by more than 16 months of a popul ar uprising — most of the destruction having actually occurred after the summer of 2011 — the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is considered by Western nations as their main interlocutor in the opposition, recently estimated that Syria would need some $12 billion in immediate financial support in the first six months after a potential fall of the regime.
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