Syria Protests – ‘Stop selling us things that are not real’
Anger over economic hardships has turned into massive demonstrations in Syria. Protesters continue calling for the ouster of the authoritarian government, summoning echoes of the Arab Spring uprising that began over 12 years ago and swiftly exacerbated into a brutal war.
People took to the streets in the country’s south with the capital, Damascus, and another major city, Aleppo, witnessing brief scenes of disturbances. Most of the protests are in government-controlled areas, far from the frontlines of the war in the northwest.
The deadly conflict has reached a stalemate with little prospect for a political settlement any time soon. The trigger for the demonstrations raging for the past two weeks was a government decision to slash fuel subsidies, which more than doubled the price of gasoline.
But Syrians are also furious over government violence and worsening living standards. While the fuel subsidy cut was the spark, “people came out into the streets not calling for this decision to be reversed,” said Rayan Maarouf, editor of the local media group Suwayda24.
Latest Protests Possibly Different And More Firmly Rooted
Demonstrators are rather calling for the fall of the regime as they realise the situation won’t get better unless the political situation changes, Maarouf added. About 90% of Syrians are living below the poverty line, with about 70% requiring humanitarian assistance, the UN says.
Lubna, who asked to be identified by her first name only, said she has been participating in the protests from the beginning and the number of demonstrators was growing each day. Meanwhile, another woman said the demands have gone beyond basic requirements.
The recent uprising began in Sweida, home to Syria’s Druse sect – one of the many religious minorities. While the southern province has seen sporadic protests in recent years, the latest one could be different and more firmly rooted.
While in the past, Druse religious leaders tried to calm the situation when protests erupted, they are now openly supporting the demonstrations and even taking part, said Haid Haid, a Syria analyst at Chatham House, a research group based in Britain.