The head of the regime, Bashar al-Assad, issued a decree that ended the appointment of Hazem Karfoul as governor of the Central Bank of Syria (CBS), without appointing a replacement for him, even by proxy, to manage the bank.
The decree did not explain the reasons for that move. It simply reads, “The President, based on the provisions of Law No.23 of 2002 and its amendments, stipulates the following: the appointment of Dr. Hazem Younes Karafoulas CBS Governor, stated in Decree No.299 dated Sep. 24, 2018 has been terminated.”
What are the dimensions of the dismissal of Karfoul and is it an introduction to the stage of recovery of the Syrian pound, or is it just propaganda?
Over the past years, and from the date Karfoul received his duties, and until the date of his dismissal, he was not subjected to any media campaign or even partial accusation, and he did not bear any responsibility for the decline in the exchange rate of the pound, but the fingers of accusation were directed directly to market speculators and corrupt merchants, as well as the Caesar Act.
As soon as the card game was rendered moot as per Assad’s decree, Karfoul started being accused of being behind the collapse of the pound.
Karfoul started managing CBS when the exchange rate of the dollar was at 450 pounds, a number that has doubled several times.
Those who read the loyal local newspapers, shortly after Assad announced the dismissal of Karfoul, noticed the huge number of accusations that were made as if Assad’s decree made a miracle happen.
Newspapers scrambled to justify the decree. Al-Watan reported, citing unnamed local sources, as saying, “now that Karfoul has been relieved of his duties as governor of CBS, it is important to point out his negative role, his severe shortcomings, and perhaps his corruption when it comes to the pounds and dollar. Karfoul bears a great responsibility for the rise in the dollar’s exchange rate over the past year.”
According to the anonymous source, quoted by pro-government newspapers, continued, “as he did not have the courage and responsibility to take a technical measure to curb the rise of the dollar and he was also rejecting the useful proposals that were put forward to strengthen the pound and enhance its ability against the dollar under the pretext that they were incorrect proposals.”
It added, “therefore, Karfoul did not even possess the idea of initiative as a concept, nor did he possess the correct thinking technique in the financial and banking field.”
As for the Syria Steps website, it accused Karfoul of allowing large merchants to take out large loans of up to 500 million or one billion pounds.
It is clear that loyal local newspapers have rushed to destroy Karfoul’s reputation, knowing that they had previously described him as the man of the hour.
Analysts believe that the game of the pound and its collapse came to the benefit of Assad himself, as the latter found a favorable opportunity to clear his record, ahead of the so-called elections, and struck a sensitive chord in people’s livelihood after presenting Karfoul as a scapegoat, in a happening similar to what happened when his father dismissed his prime minister, Mahmoud al-Zoubi, and Assad’s recent dismissal of his former prime minister, Imad Khamis.
Analysts unanimously agree that Assad did not appoint reputable figures to high positions, and the removal of these figures comes late, giving Assad strength and luster as if he is the man who does not sleep on corruption, but rather gives him time while keeping his eye on him.
The fate of the Syrian pound
An improvement in the exchange rate of the pound is projected in the coming days, but it is not possible to bet on its improvement or vice versa unless the country reaches a clear and comprehensive political solution, which would become clear through some indicators. Some Arab countries rushed to present the credentials of their ambassadors to the regime, indicating that an improvement in the pound issue is in sight, in an attempt to keep the regime afloat.
The value of the pound is contingent upon the return of production, the improvement of the trade balance, and political stability, and not the dismissal of Karfoul or anything else, according to analysts.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.