Syrian Economic and Cultural Capacity:
Economy

A Phase IV assessment


In the chart below, 8 dimensions of Syria’s economic and cultural capacity are shown, from left (“Economy”) to right (“Religion”). Taken together, the 8 dimensions of the x-axis offer a comprehensive, holistic view of Syria’s capacity to govern itself.  

Economy is important as a dimension because it reveals what elements of a functional economy exist in Syria at present. The stronger the Syrian economy the more effectively the country will respond to existential threats.


The Question:

When people trade freely with one another, they gain personally through the exchange, which helps them, and enables them to help others. Which of these levels of development is the dominant mode of the economy this country? 

The Levels:

3.     One of these four features exists at the national level: access to jobs and housing for all of the population, markets that are generated to incentivize inclusive growth, a strong regulatory mechanism, and predicable rules and enforcement of contracts. (This was the highest level chosen.) 

2.     The economy is taxed and monitored; however, none of these four features exist at the national level: access to jobs and housing for all of the population, markets that are generated to incentivize inclusive growth, a strong regulatory mechanism, and predicable rules and enforcement of contracts.
         (1.4 was the average of the levels chosen.)
1.     The economy is dominated by barter or black markets. (This was the lowest level chosen, and the level most often chosen.)


25 prime actors participated in determining the ability of Syria to respond to existential threats based on its current economy. 

In the chart, higher levels indicate greater capacity within that dimension for Syrians to respond effectively to existential global threats, from Level 1 (very weak) to 8 (very strong).

  • The highest rating: light green. 
  • The average rating: a triangle.  
  • The level identified most often: a cross. 
  • The lowest rating: dark green
Syria R3 INCA E 180304ew.jpg

Level 3: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 3:

One of these four features exists at the national level: access to jobs and housing for all of the population, markets that are generated to incentivize inclusive growth, a strong regulatory mechanism, and predicable rules and enforcement of contracts.

A Round 3 participant stated (Nov 2016 - July 2017):

“The regime is a closed clan. Everything is allowed to them. They have a monopoly. They have a few people in every city." (230713)


Level 2: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 2:

The economy is taxed and monitored; however, none of these four features exist at the national level: access to jobs and housing for all of the population, markets that are generated to incentivize inclusive growth, a strong regulatory mechanism, and predicable rules and enforcement of contracts.

Round 3 participants stated (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017):

“There are some elements of a functioning economy, but not the ones listed. Even in regime areas the economic rules are bypassed by bribery, corruption, nepotism. It makes enforcing contracts very hard.” (233911)
“The economy is reflective of levels 1 and 2. There is a lot of black market economy. The previous economy has been erased.” (239311)

Round 2 participants stated (Aug 2016 - Oct 2017):

"There are no regulations. Each does whatever they want. They are implementing a market economy, but in a wrong way. There is no regulation or consequence." (220291)
"The features could exist where the regime is in control, but they may not exist in opposition-controlled areas. Enforcement there is not possible." (228631)

A Round 1 participant stated (Jan 2016 - May 2017):

"A groups of Assad relatives control all of the economy and trade." (21388111)

Level 1: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 1:

The economy is dominated by barter or black markets.

Round 3 participants stated (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017):

“Before the revolution, the economy was totally controlled by the Syrian government and a few holdings established by the Assad family. There is no economy now, but there is a trade market between regions. The regions have different laws. Cities/villages/towns all have different laws. The Kurdish region has consistent law within itself. Most of the territory is black market. Oil from the IS area goes to the regime through brokers.” (231641)
“Syria is very dependent on other countries right now.... Before the revolution, Sunni businessmen were very rich. Assad started imposing restrictive conditions.” (238631)
“There was a recent water strike because of poor quality water. There is no established market in non-government controlled areas. There are stores, but the black market competes. There are no regulators. They do have competition.” (232631)
“There are local markets, but based on what we hear, the price of goods is volatile. There doesn't seem to be any way to control the market.” (233121)
“Iran has been involved in the Syria economy for the past few years.” (231211)
“There is also the arms dealing that influences everything. That is the currency now.” (233081)
“Even the regime controlled areas have no strong regulatory mechanism.” (238341)
“This is the case both in and out of regime controlled areas.” (236592)
“When the government has money, it goes to the military. They couldn't even afford that without outside support. Much of the educated elite has left. Cats and dogs are gone from much of Syria because people ate them. Aid packages are the only source of food. It may be better in the Assad controlled areas.” (239312)

A Round 2 participant stated (Aug 2016 - Oct 2016):

"Most businessmen were Sunni and were rich. Assad started to shut down imports. People started importing through Lebanon via animal caravans, selling in Syria at double price. As they were caught they were jailed. Assad started preventing money from leaving the country. A black market was forced to develop, but business people were jailed for long sentences, so another level of business was eliminated. The Alawi started partnering with the other Syrian business people. They learned how the market worked, the undercut the Syrian partners with international providers, offering better deals as brokers. Mercedes, Peugot, and Renault were all stopped or directed through Alawi brokers." (221211)

A Round 1 participant stated (Jan 2016 - May 2016):

"For now there is no economy in Syria. It never had any foundation. The GDP etc. were always on the minus side. A few families controlled trade. A lot of people were unemployed and outside investors were not interested. The economy was never good. Pressure from the European Union forced Assad to impose a series of rules on Syria. 40% of the population went to below the poverty level…. That contributed to the revolution.” (223881)
"Even the regime-controlled areas have no working economy." (225662)