Enab Baladi- Qamishli
The city of Qamishli witnessed the movement of civilians from the conflict areas and battles in several Syrian cities. Among the new residents in this city are merchants and industrialists, coming from Aleppo, who established commercial and industrial activities in the city regarding the “security” and the suitable climate to launch economic projects.
Aleppo merchants and industrialists were known for moving their trade wherever they went, especially after the battles in the governorate over the previous years. They transferred the culture of their markets to “quiet” Syrian cities as well as neighboring countries, such as Turkey, Jordan and Egypt.
Enab Baladi visited two factories that produce and sell tin and shoes in Qamishli. They were known, at the market level, through the quantities that were distributed locally or exported to neighboring countries like Iraqi Kurdistan.
Founded in Aleppo and Transferred to Qamishli
The factory of “Mohamed Jamal Sons (Abu Tahar)” was the first and oldest Aleppo industry in the city of Qamishli. It is a branch of the main factory which was founded in Aleppo in 2004.
Enab Baladi spoke with the factory administration which pointed to the existence of another branch, in addition to the city of Qamishli, in the city of Ras Al-Ayn in the province of al- Hasaka.
The foundation’s core business is blacksmithing. The family started working in this business in the 1950s and later moved on to the manufacture of two types of tin: “soft tin” and “American tin.”
In addition, the factory produces warehouses and all forms of blacksmithing using American machines.
The sons, who own the factory, moved to Qamishli at the beginning of the Syrian revolution and settled there. So, the factory had agents in both al-Jawadiyah (Cilaxa) and al-Muabbada (Girke Lege). The administration considered that its products “invaded the Qamishli market and enjoyed a great movement, especially in metal constructions, which resulted in economic growth in the entire region.”
In addition to tin industry, the administration converted to the trade and sale of electricity generators for almost two years in Aleppo to cover later the city of Qamishli.
Abdel-Hadi, a forty-year-old man and owner of a shoes factory in the city, began his industrial and commercial work simultaneously and in the same circumstances of “Mohamed Jamal Sons.”
He attributed the choice of the city of Qamishli to establish his work to “the calmness of the city and its safety,” despite some difficulties in the “cargo of goods and raw materials in addition to the poor communication and the closed roads that negatively affect the work in general.”
The area suffers from the repeated closure of the roads leading to it, such as the Semelka crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan border or the roads leading to the areas of the Syrian regime and the Free Army, due to irregular fighting. Meanwhile, the Turkish borders are permanently closed.
Ensuring Raw Materials Hinders the Industry
The industrial and commercial movement in the city of Qamishli is led by about 19 factories specialized in foodstuffs, hygiene and chemicals and owned by citizens from the city.
Access to raw materials is considered as the “biggest obstacle,” especially with the diversity of influence areas surrounding the region, whether controlled by the “Islamic State”, the Assad forces, or the Syrian opposition.
The “Mohammed Jamal Sons” factory depends on raw materials coming from the Syrian coastal cities of Tartus and Latakia, passing through the city of Aleppo, which is under the control of the regime, down to Qamishli.
“The cost of getting the basics of the industry is very high and is affected by the road it goes through as well as the military changes at the barriers (…). So, if the road is stable, the cost is fixed,” says the factory’s administration.
However “in case of problems, the cost, which is the royalties added to the value of the goods, increases and that affects the customer (…) We agree with the cargo that every 1 tonne corresponds to about $ 100, but when reaching Qamishli, we are surprised by the doubling of the price.”
The industrialist Abdul Hadi said that “the import of goods follows the Syrian coast road,” noting that “the discharge is concentrated mainly in Qamishli, Amuda, al-Darbasiyah, Ras al-Ayn and al-Muabbada, after we stopped export to Iraqi Kurdistan, due to the problems of the crossing between the two parties.”
He pointed also to the difficulties of “the absence of a clear mechanism to secure the goods, and fees imposed on them, so we cannot determine the cost until the materials reach the land of Qamishli.”
Big Trade Looking for Expansion
Trader Abdul Salam Mohammed, a resident of the city of Qamishli, considered that the security and calmness that characterize Qamishli were behind the spread of Aleppo factories in the region, since the trader believes that stability is important for the progress of his work.
He referred to the number of factories in Qamishli which is about 20 factories, three of which are owned by the Aleppo traders.
In his view, “the opening of factories by traders from outside the city contributes to the prosperous industrial future of the area and this has positive results for citizens and population.”
Meanwhile, the administration of the tin factory sees that trade and industry are on their way to expansion, especially with the opening of the road leading to Iraqi Kurdistan on the one hand, and west to Manbij on the other.