The Interim Government of the Syrian opposition announced a few weeks ago that it was adding to its list of employees all the civil servants sacked by the official Syrian government because of their support for the opposition.
In a meeting held early March, the Interim Government (IG), an institution established in November 2013 by the National Coalition to administer rebel-held areas, said it would begin by recruiting employees based in the Hassakeh governorate and that it will follow with other governorates “on the basis of the priorities and schedule of each minister.”
These employees will be recruited in the same ministries they were affiliated to in the official Government (OG) before being sacked, it added. Hence, an employee of the Ministry of Economy in the official Government will now be employed in the Ministry of Economy of the IG.
In the last three years, thousands of civil servants known for their affiliation with, or support to, the opposition were laid off. While the status of public sector employees normally implies life-long employment, in practice the official Government dismisses them on claims of corruption or support to terrorism. Given the very bad economic situation and rare employment opportunities in opposition areas, these dismissals managed to limit the flow of defections and the support to the opposition.
The IG did not say how many people it expects to employ but the fact that their inclusion will occur in stages probably reflects the difficulties it will have in paying for these salaries – the opposition continues to face significant financial shortfalls.
One of the consequences of this decision, if it is applied, is that it will give some guarantees to people who plant to defect. However, it may also lead to resentment among the very large segments of the population in the opposition areas that are out of job and income. Anyway, given the limited financial resources of the opposition, it is likely that in the near future the impact of the decision will be very limited.
Since that meeting held in March, the IG met several other times and announced a number of decisions, including the employment of 1,200 people to work for the ministry of Local Administration as well as the funding of various projects in the health, water and educations sectors.
In contrast with the Syrian regime, which has managed to project an image of unity and which has proved its resilience, the opposition has been marred by disunity and its incapacity to administer the opposition areas.
Its lack of resources and the fact that it has little hold over the territories it is supposed to administer are major obstacles to its ambitions. However, the series of decisions adopted recently by the Interim Government mark the first serious steps to start making an impact.