Turkey News

Regular flights between Riyadh and Damascus will be reestablished this Wednesday after 12 years being suspended, the Syrian government announced in a statement on July 4. This move follows the greenlight by Saudi authorities for the flights with Syrian pilgrims travelling from Damascus to Mecca to perform Hajj in May and June. Both steps signal Riyadh’s commitment to its strategy of reintegrating Bashar Al-Assad into the Arab fold, more than a year after Syria was readmitted into the Arab League.
A total of EUR 2.51 billion in loans was pledged by the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and France for 2024 and beyond for countries hosting Syrian refugees at the Brussels VIII Conference held in May. The amount represents a steep decline from the EUR 4 billion loans pledged last year.
This article dissects the main looting and trafficking trends throughout the conflict, modus operandi of the main actors, the legal context, the challenges to tackle this murky business, and the main gaps in accountability towards the traffickers and buyers of ill-gotten Syrian artefacts.
As the Syrian Pound is going through its most stable period for six years, the Central Bank of Syria (CBS) has unified the exchange rate for remittances between local banks and money exchange companies in a bid to “streamline banking operations,” according to a CBS statement on June 13.
The state building efforts by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria have suffered a major setback with the postponement of local elections due to pressure by its main adversary, Turkey, and its main ally, the United States. The elections have been postponed until August, but given the political scenario, this may be the first of several delays or, even, an indefinite cancellation.
The Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria has estimated this year’s budget at USD 1.06 billion, with projected revenues of USD 670 million, primarily from oil revenues, resulting in an expected deficit of USD 389 million, with no clear plan on how this deficit will be covered.
Participating delegations at the Ministerial Meeting at the Brussels Conference VIII “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” pledged on Monday a total of EUR 7.6 billion in grants and loans,  for 2024 and beyond, to Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees. This marks a 20 percent decline compared to last year's conference, when the total grants and loans pledge stood at EUR 9.53 billion.
The Brussels VIII conference held on Monday concluded with a total of EUR 7.6 billion in grants and loans for Syria and refugee host countries, of which EUR 5 billion were grants (EUR 3.9 billion for 2024 and EUR 1.2 billion for 2025 and beyond), while EUR 2.5 billion were pledged in the form of loans. Compared to last year’s conference, loans to refugee host countries have been nearly halved from EUR 4 billion to EUR 2.5 billion, while the total grants (for the current year and multi year pledges) have declined from EUR 5.57 billion pledged last year to the EUR 5 billion this year.
At the 33rd Arab League Summit, regional leaders ratified the need to continue the rapprochement process towards Damascus, but the summit concluded without any concrete economic or political concession towards Bashar Al-Assad’s government.
The Autonomous Administration in Northeast Syria has announced advancements in the establishment of an industrial city in Manbij that will host 610 shops and workshops on 430,000 square metres. Construction works started in 2023 and the project is bound to be completed in 2025.
Two events last week highlighted the specific role the Czech Republic plays in relations between the European Union and Syria. The Czech State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs travelled to Damascus where he met with Syrian officials, becoming one of the most senior European diplomats to visit Syria since the onset of the uprising in 2011. Meanwhile, a Czech engineering company got involved in the electricity sector, which is sanctioned by the EU.
A visit by the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce to Saudi Arabia, initially scheduled for April 24, has been “postponed,” without a clear explanation, although a source close to the Syrian federation blamed elections at the Saudi Chamber of Commerce scheduled for this week.
This interview with Angela Huddleston, Syria Deputy Country Director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), is part of our series of in-depth conversations with some of Syria’s main humanitarian and development actors.
Fish production has reached 13,000 tonnes this season, reaching pre-2011 levels. Syria's imports of fish and fishery products are expected to rise following the Central Bank of Syria's decision on February 18 to allow tourist establishments to import seafood and fishery items not available in the local market.
In 2023, Syrian exports of truffles amounted to USD 564,000, according to UN Comtrade, but this figure falls short from reflecting the real size of the trade industry due to undisclosed trade activities and smuggling practices. No Arab country appears as an importer of Syrian truffles in 2023, while Syrian officials have stated that Saudi Arabia is the main importer and Gulf countries a top destination for the Syrian truffle. Truffle hunters face landmines and ISIS attacks while picking this prized fungi in desertic areas, mostly in the Deir-ezz-Zor and Raqqa governorates.