Posted by Ehsani on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Since the new Governor of Aleppo took his new post recently, he has been making unflattering remarks about the city’s cleanliness. Back in 2009, similar remarks were made here. The pictures taken of garbage cans make the situation clear.
This was sponsored by the Chamber of Industry, a private education facility, and the Syrian Trust for Development. During the conference, the Aleppo Governor was quoted as saying that the “sanitation and cleanliness of Aleppo are in a terrible state”. The conference’s noble goal of creating 6000 jobs was soon overshadowed by news that over 41,000 employees had lost their jobs nationally between January and mid May of this year. Indeed, the head of the Chamber of Industry, Mr. Chehabi, warned that poverty and unemployment are the two major problems that need immediate attention. Unemployment is thought to be somewhere close to 30% (official government figures continue to record a number around 8.5%). The poverty rate is believed to be close to 40% with 400 villages out of 1000 falling under the the poverty line.
The bad news was not done. The official representing the education center reported that close to 40% of Aleppo’s population is illiterate. He referred to this statistic as a “disaster”. Below I list a few other statistics that he cited:
University graduates make up 3.4% of Aleppo’s population.
Vocational center graduates are 2.9% of the population
High school graduates make up 9.2%
Middle school graduates are 13.9%
Primary school graduates are 29.2%
Illiterates who have not attended schooling make up the remaining 41.6%
Aa number of industrialists at the conference complain about the lack of fuel oil (Mazot). The Governor promised that when Mazot could be purchased an effort should be made to make it available to manufacturers who need it to produce and keep workers employed.
The lack of fuel oil in Syria has been widely reported of late. This has become more acute since the government subsidy was increased, lowering the price of a liter from from SYP 20 to 15. It is now very hard to find it at the official price. The Aleppo Governor admitted that it is being smuggled to neighboring countries. This is not surprising. The price of fuel oil (mazot) in Turkey is now SYP 105. At the official price of SYP 15, the price difference is 86% (as Areal points out in comment 17, the difference is 600%) . This is astounding. No wonder smuggling is rampant. The Governor promised to put an end to this illicit trade soon. It is highly likely that such efforts will not work. Smuggling Mazot across the border to Syria is now the livelihood of many families. Taxis cross the border merely to sell their tanks in Turkey after they fill them up at the last gas station in Syria. Large tankers do the same. The latest joke in Aleppo is that it makes economic sense to drink Mazot in Syria and pee it out in Turkey given the price differential. As winter approaches, the domestic availability of this critical product is on everyone’s mind (the government could be stockpiling it too, hence the acute shortage).
David Goodman of the New York Times is seeking help from readers in deciphering a video showing a dramatic moment of gunfire in the suburbs of Damascus.
The NYT claims that an advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister visited Syria and sent a message to Mr. Assad that he should resign.
Not long after the article appeared, we get the following denial
*(DP-News – agencies)
The media advisor to Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “absolutely”
denied statements reported by The New York Times this week that the Iraqi
government urged the Syrian president to step down.
Ali al-Moussawi said these statements, which are allegedly made by him, are
incorrect, and added that “it is neither the nature nor the
followed-discourse of the Iraqi government to intervene in internal affairs
of other countries,” AFP reported.
Moussawi said he “absolutely” denied these statements and added that the
Iraqi government did not request Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
The Maronite Church is not a bastion of democracy. But the church has long been an advocate for an independent Lebanon, free from the shackles of foreign powers—whether Turkish, French or Syrian. For decades the church has been in synch with Arab nationalists who yearn to be free of dictatorship and military occupation.
Syria’s Opposition – USIP
USIP’s Steven Heydemann discusses the state of Syria’s opposition and why the U.S. may be hesitant to recognize an emerging opposition.
“Yes, actually I do because what’s happening under his authority in terms of people being tortured to death, people being shot who are unarmed and no one being held accountable for it,” Ford responded following a pause after being asked by TheDC if he thought Assad was “evil.”
“I can understand it if it was against orders and you just were trying to remake a police force or you were trying to remake a prison system and so there are a lot of orders being disobeyed, but you would want people held accountable. But because I see no accountability, I can only assume that on some level that he accepts it if not encourages it. To me that would be evil.”