Aron Lund writes: As 2015 draws to a close and Syria prepares to enter its sixth year of conflict, the economic conditions and transformations brought by the war are taking center stage.
The country has shattered into zones under the control of rival politico-military factions, but the economy remains curiously cohesive, connecting the Syrian population through a web of trade links, transportation, service and aid distribution channels, and decaying national systems for the provision of water, gas, and electricity. The Syrian central state economy is deteriorating at a faster pace since 2014—with food subsidies now being slashed, wages left unpaid, an ever more erratic electricity grid, failing trade and fuel distribution, a rapidly depreciating currency, as well as growing discontent in government-controlled areas—which has sent shockwaves throughout the country. Meanwhile, foreign nations penetrate ever deeper into the Syrian economy. Despite the war, or perhaps because of it, the Syrian north is growing more integrated with the Turkish economy, while Iran is emerging as a major financial stakeholder in the Syrian government. [Continue reading…]