Syrian Kurdish opposition party calls on Kurdish-led administration to stop raising fuel prices

In a statement, the KNC said that the “living situation of the people is getting worse day after day".
Logo of KNC party (Photo: K24/archive)
Logo of KNC party (Photo: K24/archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) on Thursday called on the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) to stop raising fuel prices in northeastern Syria.

In a statement, the KNC said that the “living situation of the people is getting worse day after day, because of the rapid and uncontrolled rise in prices of all materials necessary and essential for life, while the PYD (Democratic Union Party) that installed itself as a de-facto authority is ignoring people’s anger and protests. “

The PYD-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in May overturned an increase in the prices of automobile fuel, petrol, and cooking gas after widespread protests erupted against the decision in multiple cities.

However, the KNC said the AANES is once again raising diesel prices, “the substance that automatically raises the prices of the rest of the materials and services.”

Also, the KNC said the price of bread was increased in “the private bakeries, while bread availability at the public bakeries has been reduced.”

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also confirmed on Sunday that the AANES had issued a decree on September 18 to raise the price of bread.

An anonymous bakery owner told SOHR, “the bread sales have declined by more than half after the Autonomous Administration raised the prices, because the population can’t afford buying it.”

 “The Kurdish National Council condemns ignoring the demands of the people, requests to revoke the decision of raising the prices, and to fulfill the legitimate demands of the people,” the KNC statement concluded.

The KNC also said they “stand by the side of our people in their peaceful protests for defending their dignity and securing a proper life.” 

There is growing frustration over worsening economic conditions and forced military service in northeastern Syria. As a result, the local administration eased conscription conditions.

Read More: Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria ease conscription conditions

The economy has also worsened due to hyperinflation, with the Syrian pound tumbling in mid-2020 against the US dollar.

A market assessment published on September 16 by the NGO Reach shows “both the Turkish Lira (TRY) and SYP (Syrian Pound) (in the month of July) depreciated slightly against the USD, reversing a positive trend of appreciation seen in the last three months.” 

 “This is considered the underlying factor for many price increases in July in NES (Northeast Syria.”

Moreover, the report said that diesel prices “decreased greatly in July after sharp increases over the past three months, but still remains high in price relative to earlier in the year and is still largely unavailable in the majority of communities.”

The administration was also forced to raise the price of bread due to water scarcity and drought conditions in northeastern Syria that negatively affected agriculture crops, including wheat production and food security.

Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, warned UN member states in May that “if this year’s crops fail, food insecurity – which, as you know, is already at historic highs – will deteriorate further.”

 Read More: Increasing alarm over water scarcity and food security in northeast Syria

The northeast was previously responsible for 70 percent of Syria’s wheat and barley production, making it Syria’s breadbasket. 

Abdul Karim Omar, the co-chair of the AANES Department of Foreign Relations, told a Swedish delegation during the repatriation of nine Swedish nationals on September 7 that northeastern Syria is suffering from an economic crisis. 

“If the international community does not support these areas economically, it will be an opportunity for ISIS to reorganize itself,” he said, according to a Hawar News Agency report.

A delegation of the AANES on Wednesday arrived in Washington DC for talks. It’s expected they will ask for more financial support and aid apart from more political recognition. 

 -- KNC statement translated by Dler Sabar.