Among the myriad of other forms of insecurity that prevail across war torn Syria, the Syrian currency is collapsing fast, reaching its lowest point since being printed exactly 100 years ago. Before the civil war commenced back in March 2011, the Syrian pound traded at 50 pounds to the dollar. The figure now fluctuates around the 3000 mark. Exchange rates on the Syrian pound vary slightly by region, with wide discrepancies between the official dollar exchange rates and those of the black-market.
Any currency crisis in the Syrian pound will reduce purchasing power across the country. The plummeting of the currency has driven up inflation and aggravated hardship as Syrians struggle to meet the basic needs of living. The currency became so worthless that civilians started burning it. Seeing Syria’s currency crisis as an opportunity, Ankara quickly took action.
Abdul Rahman Mustafa, head of the Syrian Interim Government, which is backed by and based in Turkey, said that small Turkish lira banknotes were being circulated via branches of Turkey’s postal service operating in northern Syria. Basic food items and fuel have been priced in Turkish liras. Salaries are also being given in Turkish liras. Syria experts point out that the Turkish lira’s replacement of the Syrian pound in a region of several million people would deal further blows to the Syrian economy. Tough new US sanctions are also expected to hurt the Syrian economy and its currency.
One needs to ponder here whether using the currency of a stable economic country will make the fuel and food prices more stable for the local residents or whether Turkey’s currency move is merely a propaganda or a step toward economic annexation.