Turkish lira becomes most trusted currency in Syria

As value of Syrian pound plummets, Syrian locals turn to Turkish lira for safe shopping and sales

Omer Koparan   | 13.07.2020
Turkish lira becomes most trusted currency in Syria

AZAZ, Syria

The Turkish lira has become the trusted currency of choice in Syrian territories still under the control of the opposition and cleared of terrorism by the Turkish army.

As the Syrian pound has suffered a steep fall against the US dollar and its fluctuations continues, civilians in some Syrian territories turned to the Turkish lira for shopping and other needs.

In northern Syrian territories just south of the Turkish border, including opposition-controlled Idlib along with other regions rid of terrorists by Turkey's counter-terrorism operations since 2016 – Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Peace Spring – many business owners began to use the Turkish lira at vegetable markets, gas stations, clothing stores, restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores.

Zakariyah Ahmad, a restaurant owner in Al-Bab in northern Aleppo, said the Turkish lira is used extensively and locals are happy with it.

He said both locals and shop owners are glad to use the lira due to its stability compared to the Syrian pound.

Mohammad Casim, a merchant, said after opposition elements started a revolt against the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2011, they had no other option than using the Syrian pound, but they now enjoy using Turkish liras as the former lost much of its value.

Casim said the Syrian pound is still in use in some locations but the lira is much more prevalent, adding that he expects businesses to shift from the Syrian pound to the "safe" Turkish lira.

Mustafa Cibli, who works for a currency exchange office in Al-Bab, said staples such as sugar, oil, legumes, vegetables, and fuel are priced in Turkish liras, which made locals "much safer."

The Assad regime has been hard hit by recent tougher US sanctions on the country this year.

Earlier this year, one US dollar cost 1,000 Syrian pounds, but by mid-June it cost some 4,000 Syrian pounds. It has since partially recovered to some 2,300 pounds to the dollar.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and more than 5.5 million civilians took refuge in other countries when the civil war left eight years behind.

Nearly 4 million took shelter in Turkey, the country hosting more Syrian refugees than any other country in the world.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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