In this paper, Samer Abboud looks at the behaviour of the Syrian business community since the beginning of the uprising more than two years ago. The paper is part of a project by the German Foreign Office on elite change and social mobilization in the Arab world.
In an alarming report published early July, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned of the catastrophic state of the Syrian agricultural sector and of the serious threat that the decline in farming production presents to the population’s food supply.
The Syrian government announced in June the imposition of new restrictions on private sector imports, a move that reflects the authorities’ growing nervousness as all economic and financial indicators are in the red.
Syria’s ongoing destruction has impacted the Lebanese economy in various ways, but its eventual reconstruction could bring rich opportunities to its smaller neighbor.
On April 22, the European Union lifted its embargo on Syria’s oil exports to enable the purchase of crude oil from the opposition. The diplomatic move also permitted the sale of oil equipment to the opposition and allow the investment in oil fields located in rebel-held areas.
As violence expands across Syria, fears over the future of the country are increasing. They range from the potential use of chemical weapons in the conflict to the unleashing of a full-fledged sectarian war and to the potential disintegration and partition of the country along sectarian and ethnic lines.
The following article is the transcript of a phone interview with Jihad Yazigi on the challenges posed by the Syrian uprising on reconstruction efforts and future economic policies.
As the Syrian conflict enters its second year, it is obvious that the war economy is becoming structurally entrenched and can no longer be considered merely a temporary episode. This entrenchment demands immediate analysis in order to help us understand the long-term consequences of the conflict. These include the ability of the country to engage in a meaningful reconstruction process, the new relationships between the current elite and the post-conflict authority, and, most importantly, the possibilities for refugee repatriation as well as the alleviation of the long-term socio-economic ramifications of protracted conflict.
The Euphrates Dam, once the most potent symbol of the centrally planned development policies of the Syrian Baath Party, was taken over by rebel forces in early February. The fall of the dam is one of many recent successes of the opposition in the resource-rich northeast, which is now almost entirely out of the hands of the government.
The signing of several economic agreements on January 16 between Iran and Syria confirmed the persistently strong strategic relations between the two countries.