Sun 26 May 2019

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How Syria’s Assad Can Overcome the Sanctions

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Mansour Omari

In 2011, while I was discussing what was going on in Syria with a friend who supports Assad, I mentioned Rami Makhlouf, Assad’s cousin and his corruption and control over a large section of the Syrian economy. I told him why Makhlouf has all this money, he is the reason you and many of your community are very poor. Why he does not Makhlouf give you some money instead of making you living in such poverty. He told me the money Makhlouf collected was in preparation for such moment. The moment of the revolution against Assad.

He believed that Makhlouf and Assad were sincere to the Alawite community, today and years later, what do Assad and Makhlouf do with this money? Where is it? Is not it for this day?

The fuel crisis in Syria is not something new. before 2011, the gas and fuel crisis, fuel vouchers black market, queues and manipulation, were present throughout Syria, and it was not the only crisis suffered by Syrians, including his supporters who fulfilled their promise to sacrifice lives and blood for Assad, fighting for him.

If Assad really wants to solve the fuel crisis and other financial crises in Syria, and stop the suffering Syrians from various walks. From taxi drivers, to families who rely on gas to prepare food, to farmers who rely on water pumps to irrigate their crops, to industrialists and others, Assad has to do the following:

Nationalize Syriatel which is owned by Mahklouf and his men, and MTN Mobile service providers. The two companies that monopolize the mobile telecommunications sector in Syria started with corrupt contracts, that ended in 2015, and renewed again with only 20 pecernet of the revune for the state. Those companies reap billions of SYP per year for a few people headed by Makhlouf. The revenues of Syriatel and MTN amounted to 260 billion Syrian pounds, according to the two companies, which is about 500 million dollars, which can solve a large part of the fuel crisis. Everyone knows that Syriatel and MTN numbers are not credible and that profits could be much higher than this figure.

Stop the looting of the state’s raw resources such as gas, phosphate and oil by Russian and Iranian companies. The Syrian government has signed contracts with Russia to invest gas and oil on land and Syrian sea, fertilizer and phosphate by 70% for Russia for fifty years.

Stop the black fuel market and oil manipulation from the producer to distributor.

Review tens of thousands of government cars actually used by relatives of officials for personal purposes not to work.

Stop smuggling fuel to Lebanon.

Stop the export of electricity outside Syria, while Syrians live without electricity for long hours.

Focus on the responsibility of Russia that is causing the crisis to pressure Assad for more Russian control and contracts in Syria over the resources of the country.

Remove the iron fist of The Republican Palace and Intelligence off the press so journalist can play their role in detecting and reporting corruption.

Stop the fuel that you are using for tanks, jets, military vehicles, barrel bombs factories, and other manufacturing of weapons and ammunition you are using to kill Syrians.

Decrease the budget of the army and the hundreds of thousands of intelligence members.

Global Firepower website estimated the Syrian military budget at $ 1782 million, which is about a quarter of the country’s budget, which is equivalent to $ 1,000 billion SP, that large part of it is swallowed by corruption in the army. While hundreds of thousands of soldiers receive only a rotten piece of potato, dirty rice and dry bread.

In 2018 Syria was ranked the 178th of 180 countries in the world on Corruption Index. This means that hundreds of billions of Syrian pounds go to a small group of people, from the pockets of millions of people.

Send the tens of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani and Lebanese fighters back to their countries, and save their salaries, and expenses and stop their pressure on state resources that is already exhausted.

Confiscate the money of Rami Makhlouf and his family, Muhamad Hamsho, Maher al-Assad, Bahjat Sulaiman and the few heads of corruption in Syria, which is estimated by tens of billions of dollars, and nationalize all their investments and interests, which include in telecommunications, oil and gas, construction, banking, airlines, media and others, and put them at the service of Syrians and the development of their areas.

Release experts from detention. And allow other experts to return to Syria, including engineers, technicians and others, without killing them under torture if they don’t like you, so they can participate in solving the country crises.

Today Assad is starving his supporters and those who live under his control because of his utter failure to run the country, his corruption and this of those around him, his control of all the country’s resources through his relatives, and selling the country to the Russians and Iranians.

The solution to the crisis can not be a drama show, like Assad visiting a church or a battle site with additional costs of millions of Syrian pounds lira to secure him, or sending forcing the media and people to dance in the streets showing happiness with the crisis, or by setting up a parade and distributing newspapers on queues waiting in a sarcastic way that reaches the limit of insanity. Like when Assad’s father sent a circus to Daraa the home town of the Prime minister after Assad killed him. Techniques of placing blame, does not solve a problem but describes it.

Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians, robbed them for decades, caused the death of his supporters under the name of resistance, the stupid that even his supporters now know that his actions are very far from what he claims.

Assad must get rid of the blatant lie of resistance and its costs and its enormous price at the expense of the Syrian people, and pay attention to the real needs of the remaining people, whose suffering reached an inhuman and intolerable end.

How long will Syrians from all sides remain victims and fuel for the survival of the Assad and Makhlouf families, while their sons and relatives enjoy the stolen money outside the country.

When Yahoo’s journalist Michael Isikoff asked Assad in a TV interview, “Do you know what is going on in Saydnaya prison?” Assad replied, “How would I know, I am at the presidential palace”

Of course, the Syrian state media controlled by the presidential palace did not publish anything about the biggest tragedies of millions of Syrians who lost their loved ones to detention, torture to death, kidnapping and disappearance. Today, the regime’s media is campaigning to highlight the suffering of Syrians from the lack of fuel, and allows everyone to talk about it, on condition to blame the US, European sanctions.

My dear Assad supporter, who had so much patience for hunger, poverty, death and loss of loved ones to save Bashar al-Assad, today Assad repeats the same lie: I am not in front of the fuel station, but in the presidential palace. Assad has to stand down and stand in front of the station waiting for his turn to get fuel, but he knows that doing this, or any of the aforementioned steps, will end his rule, so he is prepared to make all those who have shed their blood and the blood of their loved ones stand in queues for living, so he can to stay in his presidential palace.

There is no way for Assad’s supporters to have a better future for them and for their children, building a new Syria, which has all the riches and strategic location to be one of the wealthiest countries, except by distancing themselves from Assad, work for a Syria that maintains their rights and the rights of all. Death, corruption, failure and poverty will not leave Syria until Bashar al-Assad leaves.


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