The economic situation in Syria continues to deteriorate in light of the depreciation of the Syrian pound. Further, American sanctions that will arise from the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act are sure to increase civilian hardship in Syria, particularly for those in government-held areas.
To talk more about the current situation in Syria, I interviewed 'Comrade Abu Tayyim',* who is a member of the Syrian Resistance led by Ali Kayali. This interview was conducted on 17 June 2020. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: We have seen a deterioration in the economic and livelihood situation and many complaints about public services like provision of electricity and water. In your opinion what are the reasons for that? Are the sanctions the main cause or is there also shortcoming from the relevant authorities and problems of corruption?
A: In what concerns the services situation it is natural that the tyrannical siege on Syria has had a direct impact on the lack of priority goods and it has been a siege since the fall of Baghdad approximately. In addition to that, stumbling in governmental performance and the spread of corruption in some of the service governmental sectors have had a direct impact. Some of the officials and contractors, weak of spirit, have participated in that. These factors have led to these services problems that have put pressure on the enduring steadfast Syrian citizen.
Q: The United States will impose new sanctions on Syria on the basis of pressuring the government to agree to a so-called political transition. Will the sanctions impact life a lot and will the government subject itself to any American demands? Will the suffering lead to a popular explosion?
A: The American sanctions- the most recent of them the Caesar law: we believe that it is evidence of a military victory and morale victory for us. So long as they have not been able to take it by force, direct military war or through their tools of Dawa'esh [Islamic State] terrorists or the so-called Free Army and the armed terrorist gangs, they are trying through this law to put pressure on the Syrian people first and create a breach between the people and the Syrian leadership and pressure the leadership. And they are trying to compel it [the leadership] to direct concession or through negotiations and to hand over authority and engage in political transition for a so-called political transitional stage and impose specific conditions that produce an authority subject and submissive to the Americans and of course the usurping Zionist entity.
But through the experiences on the land of reality we have complete and absolute confidence in the Syrian leadership that it will overcome this very difficult stage through its steadfastness, the steadfastness of the Syrian people and its standing alongside the right represented in the Syrian leadership and the aid of the allies. We will overcome and certainly be victorious and they will not be able to plant any internal fitna that leads to the separation of the leadership from the people or imposition of any concession by the Syrian leadership.
The governmental work until this moment has not been on the desired level at all regrettably of course. But we distinguish between the policy of the state and the governmental work on the ground. Yes, there are many difficulties. Yes, there is a strangling criminal siege, but there is performance that has no justification, whether it is shortcoming and stumbling and corruption on the part of the government. The people is not at all satisfied with the performance of the government and this will impact directly on the coming electoral entitlement for the People's Council and the government will see and perceive the people's stance directly through these elections.
Q: How do you assess the military situation in Syria? What prevents the restart of the military operations to liberate the remainder of the areas of Idlib?
A: In what concerns the military situation, the lines of evidence of victory are clear: there have only remained remnants here and there. More than 90% of the lands that were under the control of terrorism [have been liberated] and by the grace of our heroic army, the pure, honest and noble auxiliary forces, and the military support of the allies, we can say and with all confidence that we have been victorious on the land directly and clearly.
The Idlib battle is connected with the political situation. There are ongoing negotiations until this moment whether in Astana or other places and I think that it is subject to regional and international circumstances. It is a piece of leverage used by some, the first of them Erdogan the president of the Turkish regime, and the battle of Idlib is not far-removed from the Libya file that is clearly being used as a means of leverage on the Russian ally and its presence and support for a specific movement in Libya. But we are confident that there will be no inch of the Syrian land occupied and what we do not take through negotiation, we will take through force sooner or latter, and this is a matter of complete certainty and absolute confidence in the Syrian leadership and our heroic army. There is no doubt about that at all.
Q: What is the solution for the economic and livelihood problems that have afflicted the land? What is your advice and message to the Syrian people?
A: The solution regarding the economic and livelihood problems that have befallen the land and the Syrian citizen: we say that we must trust our leadership and the person of Mr. President Dr. Bashar al-Assad, in that currently the task occupying Mr. President in this difficult stage is this portfolio and despite all the difficulties and pressures we will be victorious over the one who has seduced himself and participated in attempting t starve the Syrian people. And here one must speak the truth: corruption has a great role in this portfolio. The merchants of blood have a great role, they must be pursued at the highest levels and punished whatever their affair and position. The leadership must strike with an iron hand in this portfolio. We are all awaiting this matter. There is no solution except direct holding to account, recovering the wealth stolen by these corrupt people, and punishing them publicly. And we are confident that the leadership will not slacken in this portfolio at all.
And the word to our great people who are resisting, enduring and steadfast. Syria- and because of its geographic position and demographic reality- has since eternity been the object of ambitions [/greeds] and let us read history from the time of our mother Zenobia. Resistance is the most appropriate thing and it has been confronting the people of ambition [/greed] from the Romans, Tatars, Mongols, Crusaders, Ottomans, English, French, Zionists and Americans. Resistance has been imposed on us since that time and we have been steadfast and victorious over all of these people. So we will be victorious over what we are in now through our endurance, steadfastness and standing alongside our leadership and great army. Victory is inevitably coming because we are on truth and whoso is on truth, God inevitably supports him, even if the time is somewhat long. Indeed the inevitable victory and at all levels is inevitably coming.
And victory is but endurance of an hour.
May God have mercy on our noble martyrs, and our prayers for the injured and wounded, and deliverance and return for the disappeared and missing if God wills. Our victory is a decision, and Syria will not bow.
*(Update 18 June 2020): Name changed as per request of interviewee.