With US escalation in Syria along with continual pouring of weapons and aid into Syria, the news is dominated by this type of news. However one important segment that is often neglected, although the most tantamount topic, is the crippling economic crisis that lingers long after the guns have stopped firing. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), Syria has estimated cumulative losses of about $260 billion between 2011 and 2015. And by the end of this year, Syria’s economy will fall by its 1990’s standards. This crisis can be almost all attributed the war of course which hinders economic growth with destruction of public and private property. But another crucial factor is the sanctions laid by the US and EU in 2011 that prevents imports and exports of even basic goods. It is estimated that exports have fallen nearly 90% due to the destruction of Syrian industrial centers such as Aleppo and the same for its oil and gas industries (which accounts for 25% of Syrian revenue).
These sanctions are highlighted by Obama’s four sets of economic sanctions in Syria which effectively cut off bank transfers, fuel, and medicine. Without funds to finance the economy, the Syrian Lira began depreciate from 47 liras to 1 USD in 2011 to 520 lira to the dollar today. Although inflation and destruction were rampant throughout the country, the cost of living in cities like Damascus actually went up from 196,000 lira ($380) in 2011 to 220,000 lira ($425 in 2011 prices) now. Amidst price increases in living costs and everything else, salaries have dropped significantly with average workers now making monthly wages 26,500 lira ($53) as opposed to 11,000 lira ($220) in 2010. With no cash available to spur any kind of investment albeit exacerbating the inflation and foreign investors forbidden from doing business in the country, black market monopolists made it out of this crisis by monopolizing certain luxury goods such as candy, cell phones, cigarettes, etc in government controlled zones. In addition, pro government forces often loot cities and zones they recapture, leaving the people with even less to work with.
Overall, it is estimated by BMI that the Syrian economy will continue to decrease by an average of 4.9% annually from 2016 to 2019. Then even if the war comes to a close, there still will be illegitimate profits amidst a heavily displaced country with approximately 6.6 million refugees within and outside of Syria(from a population of 21 million) and no viable infrastructure to facilitate economic activity until at least 2021. In addition to these statistics, approximately 4 million Syrian children (45% of adolescent population) are not in school which will further hinder growth on top of the displacement of labor and human capital. With no sign of abatement to the conflict, unemployment is on the rise with its current rate at over 57% and inflation increasing haphazardly at rates up to 60%, it is expected that it will take 40-50 years for the Syrian state to recover if ever.