Syria is well known with fairly well educated population and fairly good infrastructure. Its banking system was on a long road to modernizing for years prior to the Arab Spring striking them. There were also some economic reforms in process that seemed to help the economy move along. Prior to the present troubles the Syrian economy was growing at about 4-5 percent. But microeconomic indicators pointed to high unemployment and underemployment. Corruption was rife and some people were getting very wealthy as most people stayed the same or worse.
Syria is another example of leadership self destruction, allowing massive corruption and benefiting from powerful connection for selfish outcome. This was kept in check for many years by a brutal and intrusive security services. The world is now seeing them in full action in the bloody response to rebellion. Some one said that “unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Syrian Army is not looked upon favorably by many in the country. The big question is: Could the Army of Syria save its country as the Egyptian Army did?”
In response to that, some one could say that the armies in Egypt and Tunisia did not save their countries as unrested events are still going on in these two countries. Some analysis provide a different arguments and conclude that the Egyptian army will not be able to feed the population 80.000000, and tunisian one will not be able to prevent the illegal migration because of hunger. This could make one worried about the future of Syria and how it will recover from its recent difficulties. There is also the huge question about who would take over if the Assad regime indeed falls. The pressures on the regime are gigantic, both internally and externally.
The best way for Syria may have been to reform the economy and open up the politics of the country gradually and carefully. However, this all seems to be a moot point now after the bloody bath and animosity build up. One of the major lessons for leadership in the future is: when the tide comes up, and the economic tide for Syria was coming up prior to the troubles, make sure everyone’s boat is rising. Otherwise, expect trouble. Another lesson for leadership is: go after corruption and the networks that are damaging your relations with the people before the people turn on you. The best leaders put forward efforts to help the people as a whole, not just the people who are connected. Syria had a real chance to make change before all of this happened.
What is quite worrisome is that the problems in Syria might become an important “proxy battle” between Sunni and Shia that could spread. How the problems of Syria play out can determine Iran’s clout in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. This could also determine some aspects of Sunni-Shia relations for some time to come. The ethnic and sectarian nature of Syrian economic, political, and demographic strains is something the world needs to take care with and understand better.
Syrian Pound Decline Dramaticly
The Syrian Central Bank has managed to bring the Syrian pound back down into a manageable trading range. It had plunged to an exchange rate over 100 pounds to a dollar. It is now below 100 to a dollar. How did it do this?
Reports are that the central bank sold only 2 million dollars. Yes, only 2 million dollars in order to calm the market.
If the Central Bank can hold the price of the pound below 90 per dollar, it will be doing very well. That is where it really belonged before the revolution. Syria had been pursuing a suicidal strong-pound policy for years. The artificially high rate of 47 pounds to a dollar ignored imbalances in the economy. It undercut Syrian exports and inflated the cost of doing business in Syria, which has too many impediments and too few attractions for foreign investment.
Most important, however, was that the strong currency encouraged Syrians to buy foreign goods well beyond their means. In effect, the government was giving Syrians free foreign currency to buy cars and other goods that the country could ill afford. This made Syrians feel good, but it ignored the real costs. The strong currency ignored the decline of oil revenues. The government was ignoring its costs which were rising. The government needed to down size and let go of workers, but it refused to do so, preserving the bloated and inefficient public sector industries.
Government costs of expanding subsidies were also draining the treasury. Fuel and food subsidies were sky-rocketing with the growing population and rising commodity prices.
The government has cut its expenses by half in allowing the currency to fall to 89 pounds to a dollar.
Traditionally economic bubbles are followed by a fall of asset prices by roughly 45%. The Syria currency has fallen by 45%, should it stay at 89 pounds to a dollar. Of course, Syria is not going through a tradition economic bubble because it has a broad-based social revolution on its hands, but one should not ignore the economic causes of the Arab Spring. Economic failure underpinned this revolution.
If the Syrian revolution succeeds, it will be important for the revolutionary government not to repeat the bad economic choices of the Assad regime. Of course opposition parties have been almost silent on their economic prescriptions and plans, if they in fact have any. The cause of this silence is because most Syrians know precious little about economics, but more importantly opposition parities do not want to tell Syrians the bad news. They will have to cut government jobs and expenses.
If the Assad regime is forced to cut government jobs, stop subsidies, and allow the currency to trade at a more manageable rate, it will be blamed for the collapse. The new government will escape much of the blame for the terrible shape of the Syrian economy and will escape the necessity of imposing an austerity plan, which must be done by someone.
The new Egyptian parliament faces a gargantuan task in dealing with the economic troubles bequeathed it by Husni Mubarak. Few believe that it will be able to swiftly guide Egypt down the road of significant belt tightening and the rationalization of a public sector and monopoly industries that are not competitive.
The Syrian uprising is being driven largely by political factors, but one should not ignore the numbers. Ehasani, who has been writing for Syria Comment for over five years, has consistently warned us that Syria’s economic numbers do not add up. Eventually, reality would mug Syrians.
A message to El-Assad & Oppositions
Dear Mr. President:
Leadership is measured by understanding and compromise toward successful outcome, not by how long or how we get to stay in power. We have to send a plea and reminder to all of the educated, intelligent people, in the leadership of your government or in the opposition, that all of you failed in leadership, because you are leading to destruction instead of building, war instead of peace, revenge instead of forgiveness.
I have to remind all of you that history will judge each one of you based on what is coming not what happened, I have to remind you its about time to sit down and be civilized in discussion and reaching resolutions instead of being the typical follower to one side or another. Do not use any more the expression that all oppositions are enemy of the sate, intruders and for that reason government will not deal with them, and the opposition should stop using the killing of innocent people as the price to reach to their goal to be in power, the average street guy just wants a better life not to be in power.
I am sitting here crying because of the bloody outcome, or destruction, asking the big question, are these people in both sides Syrian? my answer was simple, the Syrian in history led Arab world by being the most civilized, and now we are loosing the basic concept of that description.
I am wondering when all of you will wake up and see the light of right and wrong, the civilized expression and responses, and get to the end of self destruction under the umbrella of revolution in the opposition mind or the enemies in the eyes of the current leadership.
A Military Points to Risk of
The New York Times. March 11, 2012
Despite growing calls for the United States to help stop the bloodshed in Syria, senior Pentagon officials are stepping up their warnings that military intervention would be a daunting and protracted operation, requiring at least weeks of exclusively American airstrikes, with the potential for killing vast numbers of civilians and plunging the country closer to civil war.
The officials say that Syria presents a far larger problem than did Libya, which required a seven-month NATO air campaign last year in which hundreds of aircraft dropped and fired 7,700 bombs and missiles.
Although the United States has the military capability to launch sustained airstrikes in Syria — “We can do anything,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told the Senate last week — defense officials say they are concerned about four tough challenges: the risks in attacking Syria’s plentiful and sophisticated Russian-made air defenses, which are located close to major population centers; arming a deeply splintered Syrian opposition; the potential for starting a proxy war with Iran or Russia, two crucial allies of Syria; and the lack, at least so far, of an international coalition willing to take action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
One senior defense official said over the weekend that even creating “safe havens,” or protected areas inside Syria for civilians, would be such a complex operation that military planners were “looking at a serious contingent of U.S. ground troops” to help establish and maintain them, should the United States take such a course of action.
The planning is in response to a request by President Obama for preliminary military options from the Pentagon, even though the administration still believes that diplomatic and economic pressure is the best way to stop the violent repression of Mr. Assad’s government. The options under review include humanitarian airlifts, naval monitoring of Syria and the establishment of a no-fly zone, among other possibilities.
Last week General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the military was only in the earliest stages of considering the possibilities. Modern commanders in chief have routinely asked for military contingency plans during crises overseas.
A message to El-Aljazeera & Al-Arabia
No doubt the Arab media played a significant role in the Arab uprising in the last few months, the bigger question how and why now?
Debate about the reasoning is multifactorial, related to some administrators in both organization have that feeling about the needs to change and support freedom, but when both organizations are owned and managed by two dictators in the Middle East, you have to ask logically why they are doing that? Lets analyze some reasons:
Financial: a huge incentive for both organization to gain popularity and also earn more financial success by showing that they are behind what they call revolutions.
Religious: both are owned or run by a conservative / fundamentalist administrators, where they already have that revenge goal toward governments who were forced them out previously. This is a fact when you look into all the general managers past and record in both organizations.
Social Media: To ride the current wave of Media, especially Social Media influence in the people life, if really the social media improve our understanding for right and wrong, our knowledge about our right and democracy, and also make us a better nations, I congratulate every one using it to be better.
Political: When both are government owned organizations, they have enough of their own reason to show support of democracy while they are far worse than any regime in the Middle East. That way they protect their own skin and allow confusion, and minimize any possible uprising in their own countries.
The biggest mistake both organizations made was related to the double standard they implemented when it comes to the Gulf area and Bahrain uprising. Unlike in most other Arab countries, Bahraini protesters were blacked out by the main pan-Arab satellite television stations - Qatar’s Al-Jazeera and Saudi-financed Al-Arabiya, both from fellow Sunni-run Arab states in the Gulf. The protests in Bahrain which broke out on 14 February “started on a Facebook page and became a real revolution. Satellite channels, including Al-Jazeera, did not support the movement for political reasons and mainly to avoid upsetting Saudi Arabia, although the channel had played a major role in supporting uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Bahraini protesters resorted to uploading to the Internet footage of their demonstrations, of speeches delivered at Manama’s Pearl Square protest epicentre and of casualties at the hands of security forces.
Syrian protesters were quick to capitalize on their government’s decision to allow access to Facebook after their protests against a regime known for its brutality that took off in mid-March. Syrian protesters have flooded the Internet with footage of the deadly government crackdown. Social media became the main and almost the only source of information. Needless to say that YouTube has defeated the Syrian government.
The second big mistake both organization made related to credibility of what they are showing, no rules and no confirmation to any of what they are showing, forgetting the basic standards of journalism. The problem was created when Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya both became an instrument in the hand of unknown people and also questionable reasoning behind what they show. Both organization in some incident had to retract some stories because of evidence proving wrong or inaccurate.
Sure, there is a problem of credibility because of the virtual-world nature that leaves space for fake news and exaggeration. Arab regimes, mainly the Syrian authorities, have realized the “importance of casting doubt over the credibility of social networks,” through leaking fake footage. No doubt also that Syrian Authorities used this as a propaganda against the demonstrators, because no doubt many of them are innocent people who want a better life.
To all Journalist and staff in both Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, you should go back to the basic of journalism, accuracy, and also stay out of getting involved with one side or another, and remember where you are located and who owns you, because history is going to judge each one of you one day! and when people start asking the big question and get the right answer, they are coming after you as a dictators of media in the Arab world, serve only your own and your government agenda, and that day you will find yourself in the same end like Moubark and Khaddafi!