In a significant move last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced a full-scale salary increase for state employees, retirees, and military personnel.
This decision emerged against the backdrop of the Syrian pound's plunge to a historic nadir, hitting an alarming 15,500 against the US dollar. This dire economic situation has placed immense pressure on families grappling with the challenge of affording essential basics, including food, fuel, medicine and housing.
However, the long-awaited salary hike did not generate the expected celebratory response. This lack of enthusiasm should not come as a surprise, considering that the salary increase coincided with a parallel government decision to sharply raise fuel prices.
Diesel fuel costs — pivotal for transportation and bakery operations — skyrocketed by a staggering 180%. Concurrently, the price of regular-octane gasoline witnessed an alarming surge of around 165%.
This sudden spike in fuel costs set off a chain reaction of chaos on the streets within the market. Consequently, instead of sparking jubilation, the recent salary increase is now being perceived as a calculated move by the government to conceal the forthcoming additional hardships its policies will inevitably bring. This perception has sparked heightened public outrage and spurred demonstrations in specific regime-held areas.