In the aftermath of Soleimani’s death, the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were worried about the consequences of the crisis between the US and Iran but the three countries have a long history of being on the edge of war to be concerned over one another, as they are facing today a more certain threat to worry about—the deepening economic crisis.
Despite the unknown political future of their countries after Soleimani’s death, who visited Iraq, Lebanon and Syria where he had militias that he trained and aided, many people in these countries are in the streets protesting because of the worst economic crisis hitting the region for decades.
In Syria, a week after the Iranian Major General’s death, people woke up to witness a new collapse for the Syrian Lira which traded at 47 SYP to the dollar at the beginning of 2011 and has now exceeded 1000 SYP on the black market today. Among the Syrian local news websites, the most popular topics are about the high prices and the low income as the average salary of the Syrian employee today is equivalent to less than US$40.
Lebanon, which remained a safe financial hub after the European and American sanctions on Syria after 2011, with deposits of more than 20 billion dollars from Syrians according to the Economist magazine is facing the worst economic crisis since the civil war that ravaged the country between 1975 and 1990. The Lebanese Lira has depreciated by more than 30 per cent against the U.S. dollar since September with new laws imposed by the government and banks that limits the amount of money people can withdraw, leaving many struggling to pay rent, bills and afford buying their essentials.
For the first time the protests in Lebanon and Iraq crossed sectarian lines that tend to define the region’s politics, drawing demonstrators from the Sunni, Christian, Druze and Shia communities which is a strong message that the worst challenge for the people of these countries is no longer sectarian and political divisions but rather poverty, unemployment, and the collapse of the economy—a challenge that’s affecting ordinary people everyday.
In the big picture, The Iranian regime seems to be suffering and can’t afford to lure more proxies as loyal servants to its expansionist cause, but in the first place the sanctions are paralysing the economies of the average people and paving the way for new crisis in the region that has already caused the worst turmoil; sending the largest waves of refugees across the world.
Without an American strategy to help the protestors of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon against the harmful influence of Iran, the consequences of the American sanctions will hit the innocent people before it succeeds in eliminating the rule of Iran and its proxies.
Until today, Iranian top generals, Lebanese and other politicians close to Iran are finding ways to make their trade and launder their money in parts of Latin America and elsewhere. According to the Financial Times, the Assad family have bought properties in Moscow’s highest skyscraper for tens of millions of dollars, while Syria is being hit with Caesar sanctions that will deteriorate the economic situation and prevent countries from contributing to Syria’s rebuild.
On the other hand, the real victims of Iran’s destabilising behavior in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are suffering from the consequences of sanctions on their economy. The population in these countries are protesting and ready to discard the ties with Iran and its proxies that destroyed their countries’ economy and security without any sign or strategy from the United States to help the people by differentiating between the victims and the criminals.
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