Syria SYRIA Meredith, Joanna, Megan and Daira
Basic Information • The Capital of Syria is Damascus. • Damascus was established in 2500 B.C. and is the oldest capital in the world. • The Current Syrian President is Bashar al-Assad • Syria is located in Western Asia. • Boarders Lebanon and Iraq. The populationis22,530,746. • Syrian governmentis a Unitary republic and has a Semi-presidential system. • Syria’s currency is the Syrian pound.
History • 1517—Syria fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks. • Syria used to be inhabited by Canaanites, Hebrews, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans. • The Ottoman Turks ruled for 400 years (1517-1917). • 1920, King Faysal established an independent Arab Kingdom in Syria.
History • Syria experienced military overthrows, which caused constant disorder in Syria. • 1956, Syria established an union with Egypt, but this did not last long. • 1961, Syria became the Syrian Arab Republic.
Politics • Syria is a republic under an authoritarian military-dominated regime. • Syria is Repeatedly Accused of Supporting Terrorist Groups • Syria Sinks into Civil War • Many issues with Israel
Politics continued • Relationship between United States • Opposition Forms New Governing Body
Syria’s natural resources:agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism • GDP composition by sector: (2012 est) • Industry: 25.3% • Industrial production growth rate: 6% (2010 est) • Services: 56.6% Agriculture: 18% Agriculture used to make up for 25% of GDP and 25% of the labor force before the drought hit It’s GDP accounted for 17% in 2008, and 20.4% in 2007
Drought and poor conditions • The drought lasted from 2006 to roughly 2011. Up to 60% of land experienced crop failure. • Herders lost around 85% of livestock which affected 1.3 million people. • 200,000 villagers in 2010 were forced to head for the cities so they could better afford to live. • Government has tapped into groundwater resources over 135,000 times in 1999 to a jump of 213,000 times in 2007. • In 2013 the UN has implemented an emergency program, but food distribution has been stopped by security conditions. • As of Jan 2012 the government announced a policy to reduce subsidies and allow process to rise. • Basic commodities such as bread continue to be heavily subsidized. • The macro economy is also collapsing because of the mini economics collapsing within the macro picture. • Example of the shoe textile factories 9,000 shut down because of no money.
oil • In 1960s they were producing heavy-grade oil and in the 1980s light-grade. • In 1995 oil production was @ 610,000 barrels per day (bpd) but this went down to 379,000 bpd in 2008. • This accounted for 50% of the government’s income in 2005. • Syria exported roughly 150,000 bpd in 2008. • 2009 the oil sector accounted for 23% of government revenues, 20% of exports, and 225 of GDP in 2008 according to Syria Report of the Oxford Business Group. • Oil exports for hard currency was over 30% of total export income in 2010. • Pre-revolution Syria produced 400,000 bpd and consumed 300,000. • In the past few months Assad has put prices of essential commodities, such as gas by 62% and oil by 106% according to the Agence France Presse.
tourism • The tourism sector was about 5% of GDP in 2011 according to the World Travel and Tourism Council • Because of the unrest economy and what is happening in Syria, tourism has dropped dramatically • “Because has slowed down massively, many factories in Aleppo, especially textiles, have been laying off workers, putting them on reduced, pay or reduced hours. Hotels are empty, and the thousands of informal workers in the sector are now unemployed.”
Banking • In 2001 Syria legalized private banking and in 2004 four private banks began operations. • In August 2004, a committee formatted to supervise the establishment of a stock market. • Once private banking was legalized, President Assad signed legislative decrees to encourage corporate ownership reform and allowed the Central Bank to issue Treasury bills and bands for government debt. • No debt instruments were available until Dec of 2010. • Decriminalized private sector use of foreign currencies in 2003. • In 2005 it allowed licensed private banks to sell foreign currency to Syrian citizens under certain circumstances and to the private sector to finance imports. • 2012 updated the government controlled bank banned the withdrawal of totals more than $5,000 as well as increased interest on bank deposits from 7% to 9% while halving reserve requirements from 10% to 5% according to NassibGhabrilCommercial. • Bank prime lending rate: 11.7% (Dec 31st 2012 est)
population • 60% of population under the age of 20 • Pop approx. 22.5 million people • Pop growth rate 2.37% • 65% of pop under the age of 35 • 40% under the age of 15 • Pop below poverty line 11.9% (2006 est)
Labor and unemployment • Labor force: 5.54 million (2012 est) • Unemployment rate: 18% (2012 est) • Approx. 200,000 people enter the labor market every year • Unemployment rate as of currently 2012-2013 is 30% to 45% • Gov. and public sector employees constitute about 30% of the total labor force • Gov. officials acknowledged that the economy was not growing at a pace sufficient to create enough new jobs annually to match population growth even prior to the protests
Overall debt • Repairing damage caused by 2 years of fighting would cost up to $80 billion says Abdullah at Dardari, former deputy premier for economic affairs under President Bashar-al Assad. • “One of the reasons behind the uprising was the government’s economic dead lock. The ‘do nothing’ scenario in Syria, seen before the crisis, is very stuck in itself, regardless of the uprising” –Dr. Samir al-Taqi, director of the Dubai-based Orient Research Center and former member of Syria’s parliament. • Pre-revolution, the economy was worth about $60 billion. Since 2011, it has shrunk 35-40% and unemployment has gone from 8.3% to 35%. • Economic losses over the last 22 months stand @ $48.4 billion, almost 82% of the country’s GDP FOR 2010. • It is expected for public debt to reach 46.2% of GDP in 2013 • Public debt: 44% of GDP (2012 est) • Current account balance= -$5.103 billion (2012 est) • External debt= $8.818 billion (Dec 31st 2012 est) • GDP per capita expanded 80% in 60s, reached a peak of 336% in 70s and shrank to 33% in 80s. • GDP per capita grew 12% in 90s. • President Bashar al-Assad’s gov has spent billions of $’s of hard currency reserves on wages fuel subsidies and propping up the ground
Turmoil within the government • The liberalization of the Syrian economy was always stopped by the mafias surrounding the ruling family. The family was never investing their revenues into the country, but mainly investing in the telecoms sector and ‘hit-and-run sectors. • There’ve been a lot of mistakes by the Syrian government. They’re no longer capable of controlling the economic deterioration. The economy isn’t only suffering because of the war, but because the government printed four times the necessary amount of liquid money when inflation rose. • 60,000 people dead (2013 est) • Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq
Currency and exchange rate • Syrian pounds per U.S. dollar: • 63.94 (2012 est) • 48.371 (2011 est) • 11.225 (2010 est) • 46.708 (2009 est) • 46.5281 (2008 est) • Syrian pounds to U.S. dollar exchange rate: • 1980: 3.94 pounds • 1985: 3.92 pounds • 1990: 28.80 pounds • 1995: 35.30 pounds • 2000: 49.68 pounds • 2005: 56.09 pounds • 2010: 47.00 pounds • In March 2011 inflation rose to 40% and the exchange rate with the U.S. money fell to 5% according to the International Finance • The Washington based International Finance said the reserves could be depleted by the end of 2013 • In 2012 Syria’s official reserves at one point started around $18 billion and fell and the rate of nearly $80 million per week • To prevent utter chaos the central bank started pumping foreign currencies into the Syrian pound exchange rate on the black market • The deficit was forecast to reach 745 billion Syrian pounds ($10 billion) in 2013, compared with the then expected deficit of 216 billion Syrian pounds ($3 billion) in 2012, SANA reported
Trying to fix the situation • The government has reinstituted fuel subsidies for the poor as well as upped salaries for those out of work. Increased government spending and Assad’s personal plea for Syrians to help save their economy have not worked. • If the conflict stops today, the country can still be saved, the society, its unity, and sovereignty. • If the war continues: unemployment rate would reach 58% by 2015, and the number of Syrians would plunge into absolute poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day, could rise to 44% from 12% pre revolution
religion and culture • Muhammad is the founder of Islam. Religion is an essential part of Syria’s culture and daily life. • 74% of the population is Sunni Muslim. 16% is Alawite (Shia), 3% Druze. 10% is Christianity. 90% Arab and 9% other Ethnic groups. • Syrian culture is based on the importance of respect, self-discipline and the importance of family. • In Syrian culture, family is placed before everything else in life. Older family members are to be shown respect and honor.
Food and clothing • Food is an essential part in religious celebrations and weddings. • Both lamb and pork are popular food items. Pork is an important food in the Islam religion and culture. • Mezzeh is a mid-day meal that consist of twenty to thirty small dishes. • Tea is an important drink during gatherings. Alcohol is a forbidden drink. • Men traditionally wear long gowns called kaftans. Women wear long robes as well and only show their hands and feet. • The younger generation are more likely to wear modern Western attire. • According to tradition, wearing long robes and face veils is a sign of wealth and status for women.
Religious traditions • The word Islam means, “submission to God.” • The Islamic foundation is based on five pillars. • No priests or clergy in Islam. Instead there are muezzins who are studiers and interpreters of the Quran, the holy book. • In rural areas there is belief in the evil eye and jinn (spirits). • Most important month is Ramadan.FollowingRamadan is the feast of Eid al Fitr.
Five pillars of Islam • The Five Pillars of Islam are: testimony of faith, prayer, giving zakat, fasting during the month of Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Makkah. • Testimony of faith emphasizes that there is only one true God (Allah). • All Muslims must pray five times a day. • Zakat means “purification or growth.” Money that is set aside for the poor is purified. • Fasting during the month of Ramadan. • Making a pilgrimage to Haram in Makkah, a holy site. Must do this at least once during life-time.
United States and Syria’s relationship • 1966, U.S. and Syria established a diplomatic relationship. • November, 1967, Council Resolution 242 was created. • Resolution 242, served as a peace treaty between Arab nations and U.S. • 1985, relationships between U.S. and Syria improved. • Syria was placed on a list of countries that support terrorists.
Syria’s Relationship with the United states Continued • Since 2005, after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the relationship has declined greatly. • Syria criticizes American policy in Middle East. • Restrictions have been placed on U.S. goods being shipped to Syria. • U.S. has provided assistance to refugees fleeing Syria. • Peace Treaty—should always include Syria.
Resources • Countries and their culture: Syria. (2013). 22, April, 2013. www.everyculture.com/syria • What are the Five Pillars of Islam? A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam. 20, April 213. www.islam-guide.com/syria • U.S. Relations with Syria. (2012). U.S. Department of State. 24, April 2013. www.state.gov • Between Freedom and Sectarianism. (2012). New Republic. 243 (16), 39-44. • AKKAYA, S. (2012). RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM IN TURKEY AND ITS EFFECTS ON TURKISH-SYRIAN RELATIONS. Contemporary Readings In Law & Social Justice, 4 (2), 226-237. • Syria: History. (2012). Michigan State University. www.globaledge.msu.edu/countries/syria