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Economic Mafia: The Other Side of the Syrian Crisis

Warlords and crisis traders have no interest in reaching settlements between the regime and the opposition forces
Economic Mafia: The Other Side of the Syrian Crisis

On the sidelines of the international and regional disagreements on the Syrian crisis, and the quixotic battles between the regime and the opposition, and the practices of ISIS, there is also space to invest in people and death, making traders richer and the Syrian citizens poorer.


Syrians talk about the "kidnapping trade" which has become a major source of funding for the war and a method to impose obedience and loyalty, with warlords kidnapping then asking for money – sometimes up to millions of dollars – to release their victims. The trade is common in both the opposition and the regime-held areas.


"A black Jeep stopped at the door of his building in al-Mazraha neighborhood in Damascus, four heavily armed men stepped out of the car and entered the house of his neighbor forcibly and abducted him from his home, then asked his family to pay 50 million Syrian Pounds in exchange for his release," said Ahmed told Madar al-Youm.


The man's family was forced to sell their property to be able to pay, and none of his relatives went to the police station because the kidnappers were probably related to the regime, they believe.


Some press reports that have addressed the issue, cocluding that only the dollar was able to break the siege imposed on the eastern Ghouta, as it became possible to deliver goods from the vegetable market in Damascus to its suburbs if you pay the required – and doubled – commissions.


In the besieged areas, which drew international attention, such as Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, the war economy is based on the aid delivered by UNRWA to those who survived the siege, shelling and fighting.


According to eyewitnesses, the National Defense Forces fighters stop civilians at checkpoints and do not allow them to pass unless they pay cash, sometimes just everything they have in their pockets.


Many of the civilians believe that there are warlords and crisis traders who have no interest in reaching settlements between the regime and the opposition forces in cities, especially the besieged areas, always seeking to thwart any agreement between the parties so as not to lose the arms and food trade that earn them millions of dollars.


On the other hand, new occupations have spread in recent years, such as "the father of corpses" and "the father of graves", where a person tours the villages and the outskirts of towns in search of bodies to deliver them to those who have already dug graves in the region. The whole process is funded by the people of the neighborhoods and cities in the form of donations.


Salem told Madar al-Yaom that "the profession of the 'father of graves' is one of the tragic things we have witnessed, but it is accepted by civilians, as they recover the bodies of their children or relatives, or bury unidentified bodies, which somehow retains the cleanliness of the earth, and limits the harmful scenes, such as the scene of dogs eating dead bodies on the side of the road".


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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