Syria, exchange of Turkish lira

Syrians begin to use Turkish lira to save their economy

In areas of Syria under the control of the opposition, wages have been paid since last month in Turkish liras in the face of the collapse of the Syrian currency, which has revived protests against Assad.

Local authorities in the Syrian province of Idlib, the last stronghold of groups opposed to the Bashar al-Assad regime, have decided to replace the use of the weak and fluctuating Syrian pound with the more stable Turkish lira to prevent the region’s economic collapse, and in the face of rising food and consumer goods prices due to the collapse of the Syrian economy, which is suffering the effects of 9 years of war, the coronavirus and the crisis in neighbouring Lebanon.

Since last week, images of the use of Turkish currencies in areas of Syria under opposition control began to circulate on social media, and the authorities of Idlib have confirmed that since last May they have begun to pay wages in Turkish liras, while merchants and exchange houses have been instructed to use the Turkish currency “for daily transactions in the liberated territories“, instead of the Syrian pound.

Last Friday, the United Nations also confirmed in a statement that a large Turkish currency consignment had entered Idlib on June 11, whose original population of 1.5 million has doubled to 3 million due to the arrival of refugees from other regions of Syria controlled by the Assad regime. The replacement of the Syrian pound by the Turkish lira in Idlib will cause a further decline in the impoverished Syrian currency, as its demand declines.

In a statement released via Twitter, Abdurrahman Mustafa, President of the Syrian Interim Government -formed in 2013 by the moderate Syrian opposition, and whose leaders live in exile in Turkey- confirmed for his part that to protect the savings of citizens against the rapid devaluation of the Syrian pound, after negotiations with Turkey the first steps had been taken towards the use of low-value Turkish banknotes in liberated areas of northern Syria.

The collapse of the economy revives the protests against Assad

The value of the Syrian pound has plummeted in recent days on the black market for foreign exchange, causing prices in the country to skyrocket and prompting the first protests in areas of southern Syria under regime control for many years, with people protesting the rise in prices and the loss of value of the national currency, and some even calling for the fall of Assad.

The outrage of the Syrians and the decision made in entire regions such as Idlib to adopt the Turkish lira as their main currency is understandable if one takes into account the chaotic situation in the Syrian economy and its currency, which last week changed in the market at a rate of 3,000 Syrian pounds per dollar, more than 4 times higher than its official exchange rate (700 Syrian pounds per dollar), and no less than 60 times higher than its pre-war rate.