MESOP “ASSAD’S NEW GOVERNMENT UNDER PRESSURE – A Regime Admission of Its Economic Crisis

22 June 2016 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – UPDATE 1630 GMT: President Assad has dismissed the Government amid growing criticism of economic problems. Assad asked Electricity Minister Imad Khamis to form a new Cabinet. Under Syria’s new Constitution, the Cabinet was considered to have “resigned” upon the convening of a new Parliament, which met for the first time on June 6, and to hold a “caretaker role”.

Discontent has risen, including in pro-regime outlets, over the Government’s recent increase in gasoline and fuel prices.

The new Prime Minister Khamis was sanctioned by the European Union in March 2012 for “using power cuts as a method of repression”.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: The Assad regime has put out a careful admission of Syria’s economic crisis, through a brief statement on State media.

The SANA news agency said the Cabinet’s weekly session on Tuesday was devoted to “issues related to services and citizens’ living Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi justified the raising of prices on gasoline and other petroleum products, insisting that it was part of “carefully calculated economic policies”. He said “current conditions in the country” forced “unpopular decisions”.

Halqi maintained that an increase in compensation for living costs “should alleviate economic burdens on State workers”. He made no apparent reference to the situation of those who are not employed by the State.

Instead, he spoke of wider problems in the economy: The state treasury was greatly depleted by the war on Syria, and the years of war and the economic embargo have drained resources and caused production to stall in many sectors.The government no longer produces oil but buys it in foreign currency, and raising petroleum products has become a necessity in order to keep providing them. The regime has lost up to 95% of oilfields and many areas of gas production, mainly to the Islamic State, in Syria’s five-year conflict. The energy crisis has added to other strains, with GDP falling about 16% per year. Losses were estimated at $237 billion by the end of 2015.

As a result, the Assad regime is dependent on outside assistance, particularly from its allies Iran and Russia.