Army soldiers pay to evade service; Officers demand skyrocket “tariff”
Homs – Orwah al-Mundhir
Recruits in the reserve and retention service in the Syrian army resort to paying sums of money to the officers responsible for them in exchange for their absence for specified periods from their military units.
The officers receive varying sums that differ from one unit to another and from one officer to another, which is known locally as the “al-Taffiesh” phenomenon (covering up evasion of service for money).
However, the continued deterioration of the living situation, and the tightening of the grip of the intelligence branches on military units, prompted most officers to raise the value of the sums they receive from the soldiers since the beginning of 2023.
Despite the increase in the amount of money, most of the soldiers continued to pay, while others were unable to pay and returned to their units, according to interviews conducted by Enab Baladi with army recruits.
Through the “al-Taffiesh,” the army officer covers the absence of soldiers, who pay in a devious way, or the soldiers can get an “open military assignment” from one of the officers who were paid for this service.
No other options
The breadwinners of the military need amounts that amount to twice the salaries and wages of workers in the institutions of the regime’s government, and they are looking in devious ways for additional income that covers the minimum needs for themselves and the needs of their families.
The salaries of those working in the army are not different from the rest of the state’s institutions, with the exception of some increases such as the “military burden” and shift allowances, the monthly total of which does not exceed 15,000 pounds (about 3 US dollars).
While the duration of the reserve service or the period of retention service is still unknown, most of the soldiers prefer to pay the “al-Taffiesh” amount in exchange for not being committed to military working hours and moving on to other work.
Abdul Rahman, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons, is a soldier in the reserve service for the 15th Division (special forces), who told Enab Baladi that “al-Taffiesh” for him is a must that he cannot do without.
Abdul Rahman’s military salary is about 150,000 Syrian pounds per month, which barely covers his personal expenses, which makes him willing to pay double his salary in return for not working.
The young man achieves an “acceptable” income that enables him to pay the “al-Taffiesh” amount and secure his family’s needs at the minimum through his work in the sale of fuel.
Abdul Rahman considered that the “al-Taffiesh” is a mutually beneficial relationship between the officer and the soldier as the officer cannot practice any work because of the nature of his working hours, and the soldier cannot cover his expenses if he is committed to working hours and relies on his military salary.
There is no fixed “tariff” between the officers and the personnel regarding the amounts paid for “al-Taffiesh,” which makes these amounts “substantial” in many cases.
Mohammad, a soldier in the “7th Division, said that the amount of “al-Taffiesh” in his unit increased at the beginning of this year due to the deterioration of the living situation and the increased scrutiny of the “al-Taffiesh” by the Military Security branch.
The average amount of “al-Taffiesh” last year amounted to 250,000 Syrian pounds per month, in addition to the military’s full salary, while it has reached 500,000 Syrian pounds over the salary since the beginning of this year.
Mohammad added that most of the soldiers responded to the officers’ requests and raised the paid amounts.
The amount usually increases with the change of commander of the military unit or with the deterioration of the living situation, while officers of units such as the Republican Guard and the Fourth Division receive “al-Taffiesh” amounts in gold fines or dollars, according to what Luay, a Republican Guard soldier, told Enab Baladi.
In late December 2022, the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, issued a legislative decree to amend the wages and pensions of military personnel.
The decree specified the salary of an officer with the rank of “First Lieutenant” at 116,000 Syrian pounds (about 17 US dollars, given that 1 USD = 6,670 SYP).
The officers at the top of the military hierarchy, with the rank of “Brigadier General,” receive between 270,000 and 292,000 Syrian pounds (about 43.5 US dollars), according to the military arrangement (Brigadier 1, Brigadier 2, Brigadier 3).
The salaries of other military officials range between those of the First Lieutenant and the Brigadier General and drop below that for the ranks of non-commissioned officers and members of the security forces.
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