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In Syria, Assad Loyalists are betting on their government as the standard of living deteriorates




Young Syrians send a billboard picture of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital, Damascus, a city spared the worst of the eight-year war, but begin to feel the effects of a free fall economy. (Louai Beshara / AFP / Getty Images)

– Syrians who remained loyal to President Bashar al-Assad during the last eight years of war, are increasingly expressing dissatisfaction with his government, while living conditions in the country continue to deteriorate even though the conflict is being settled.

The conditions are bad for most of the 19 million Syrians living over the ravaged country, including in about one-third who remain outside government control. Whole towns and villages have been demolished and destroyed, and an estimated 89 percent of the population lives in poverty and depends on international food distributions, according to the United Nations.

But for the first time, those who live in pro-government areas who were spared the worst of the violence are experiencing some of the hardest shortcomings, including in the capital Damascus.

Residents say life has become more difficult in recent months than at any time in the past eight years, realizing that there will be no quick recovery from the enormous damage caused by the war on the acid economy, social fabric and standing in the international community has caused.

Until the last of the rebellious Damascus suburbs was restored last year, the fired from rebellious unfortunate territories shattered regularly on the metropolitan streets and maintained a mood of fear and insecurity.

The conquest of the eastern Ghouta suburb last year ended the rocket fire, but it did not bring the sanctuary residents hoping, a Damascus-based writer who spoke on condition of anonymity said he feared his security. "This is the worst we've ever known," he said. "People can hardly survive and the proportion of poor people is constantly increasing."


Large parts of Damascus suburbs, formerly held by rebels, have been destroyed in the war. Realizing that reconstruction can take years burns a sense of anxiety among residents. (Louai Beshara / AFP / Getty Images)

Acute deficiencies in fuel, cooking gas and electricity have left citizens shaky in the dark through an unusually cold winter. The Syrian currency that had thrown itself and then stabilized after the war broke out, slipped again and sent prices up.

Many thousands of men who fought on the front line for years, return home without any hope of finding work. The wartime economy has fought for corruption on an unprecedented scale that unites the daily challenge of doing long hours to ensure basic necessities with the indignity of having to pay more bribes for official teams, according to residents of Damascus.

Widespread expectations, encouraged by the government – that wealthy Arab investors would flock back to Damascus, Chinese funding for reconstruction projects would flow and US sanctions would be relaxed – disappointed, and did not seem to be met anytime soon .

Damasko's cafes and bars are packed at night and create the impression of a city on the way to recovery. But the revelers represent a small elite who have benefited from the war, and their conspicuous consumption only burns against the vast majority of people for whom life is a daily struggle to survive, residents say.

as a great military victory has not translated into improving the quality of life that was expected, "says Danny Makki, a British Syrian analyst and journalist living in Damascus." You have 3 to 4 percent of people with the vast majority of wealth, and for the rest, life is just a struggle. "" It is such a depressing mood, and it has been such a hard winter "he added." Even when we had militant groups on Damascus, we never had so big problems from the quality of life perspective. "

The accident is reflected in an unprecedented stream of complaints on social media by Assad Loyalists, including Assad Loyalists, including some of the celebrities and television personalities who used their stature in the past to support support for his regime.

"We won, but there is no point in victory if we no longer have the homeland we knew," Ayman Zedan, a prominent actor, wrote in a public post on his Facebook page which is a play Does the disappointment that Assad's military victory over his opponents have not brought any respite to his followers?

"We are tired of promises and promises on the TVs and radios," Shoukran Mortaja, a famous actress, complained in a public speech on his side aimed at "Mr. President."

"Shall we really let those who didn't die in the war die of misery, cold and inflated prices? "she asked.

People among her 54,000 followers expressed support in comments on the post, which were shared more than 2,000 times. "I'm sure your message will reach the president. We are with you and we add our votes to you," one of them said.


Syrians are searching a street market in Damascus. (Louai Beshara / AFP / Getty Images)

Assad has apparently heard the complaints. In a February speech in Damascus, he was exceptionally defensive, recognizing that some people are actually suffering and that corruption among local officials has contributed to the difficulties people are experiencing.

But he withdrew responsibility and accused the outcasts of smoothing out the strongest criticism and attribution of deficiencies of vital products to US sanctions.

Economists and Western diplomats say new sanctions imposed by the US Treasury in November were actually the most likely cause of the unexpected serious shortages of energy products in recent months. 19659026] The impact on ordinary people with limited US and European sanctions on the earliest days of the war on individuals associated with the Assad regime has been minimal, says Jihad Yazigi, editor of the Syria Report, a business and finance newsletter. Except for a short period two years ago when the fuel and gas supply became shorter due to a dispute between the government and Iran, Syria's largest supplier, most products have been widely available in government areas throughout the conflict, he said.

But the latest treasury sanctions targeted the shipping companies providing fuel and gas to Syria, which suddenly discourage those who had transported fuel to Syria from continuing to do so for fear of jeopardizing their business elsewhere.

Most Syrians place the blame for the deficiencies of their government, according to residents, reflecting the depth of the building packaging.

"People do not owe America, or at least they do not put the main responsibility for America. The biggest blame they place is on the government," Damascus-based writer said. "They know the government is incapacitated and corrupt."

Assad himself remains unlimited for the criticism. The general express view the author said is that Assad is not involved in the day-to-day running of the country and that corrupt, inappropriate officials and local warlords empowered by the conflict are responsible for any errors.

Reflect attitude, the actor included in his Facebook post a direct appeal to Assad. "I am sending you this message because you are the only one who will listen and promise us, and then keep your promise," she wrote. "We are all with the home country, but we do not want the home country to be against us."

No one expects yet another revolt against Assad for now, at least in loyalist areas, the Syrians say. In 2011, the protests where millions of people went to the streets to urge Assad to step down ignited a war that cost the lives of as many as half a million people, led by more than 6 million refugees and inflicted as much as $ 388 billion. . worth dollars for damage to the economy and infrastructure, according to the United Nations.

"That's the last thing people want. People have lost their will to care," Damascus author said. "You won't find a single family that hasn't lost anyone. They just want it to be past and trying to make ends meet."


People stand up for gas containers in Aleppo in February. (Louai Beshara / AFP / Getty Images)

The ubiquitous presence of the intelligence agencies also imposes limits on the violent criticism. The restraint and apparent disappearance this year by Wissam Tayar, a prominent government cheerleader who had driven the popular pro regime Facebook news site Damascus Now sent a chill among many unhappy regime supporters. The reasons for his arrest remain unclear and his current whereabouts are unknown, according to people who know him.

Syrians are discussing whether the government has decided to tolerate the rare criticism of its followers or whether it simply lacks the ability to round off all the complaints. More than 100,000 Syrians have disappeared in Syria's 2011 prison system, and tens of thousands have been executed or killed under torture, according to the Syrian Human Rights Network, which maintains a database of civilian victims of war.

However, most of these victims advocated the calls to Assad to leave the office. When the challenge refrains from a resistance that contained a spectrum of views, from democratic activists to violent jihadist extremists, those who stood by him have the right to express their opinions, Yazigi said.

"There is no longer a feeling that they have to stick together to meet a common enemy," Yazigi said. "People say," We have defeated the common enemy, so now we have to look at who is responsible for the disaster we are in. ""

However, this feeling also raises questions about the future direction of Syria and sustainability of the Assad family's iron fist rule, according to a retired Syrian prime minister who also spoke of condition of anonymity due to security issues.

Many Syrian loyalists say they are hoping for the Russian-led peace process supported by the UN. The Russian plan foresees reforms of the Syrian constitution that would bring some members of the opposition to government and perhaps dilute Assad's absolute power. The idea is that such a solution will be approved by the United States and Europe, opening the way for reconstruction financing, foreign investment and Syria's rehabilitation of the international community.

However, Assad has repeatedly expressed its opposition to any constitutional changes negotiated by foreign forces.

The retired official does not support the opposition, but he questions the viability of a regime that has not shown willingness to compromise in the face of the great challenges facing it.

"If this were basketball, we would be in time out," he said. "People have the feeling that the war has not yet ended."


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