Skip to main content

Protests in southern Syria as economy worsens

Syria’s economy is in tatters, and the removal of subsidies has led to relatively rare protests in government territory.
A child watches as Jasmine (not pictured) paints amidst the rubble in the city of Jindires on Feb. 28, 2023, near Aleppo, Syria.

Protests occurred in southern Syria on Thursday as anger grows at the government over the dire economic situation.

Residents of Suwayda and surrounding areas protested against poor living conditions in the country. The demonstrators blocked roads, burned tires and chanted anti-government slogans, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Reuters reported that hundreds of people participated in the protests. The unrest was specifically motivated by rising fuel prices, according to the outlet.

Most residents of Suwayda are members of the Druze religious minority. The area is under the control of Syrian government forces.

Background: Syria’s economy is struggling. The country has been ravaged by the civil war that began in 2011. Corruption, poor governance and harsh Western sanctions have also added to the economic misery. On Tuesday, the Syrian pound fell to a new all-time low of 15,000 pounds to the dollar. The country is also experiencing high inflation, and the economy was further battered by the deadly earthquakes in February.

President Bashar al-Assad doubled public sector pay in a decree on Tuesday. The same day, the Ministry of Commerce lifted subsidies on petrol (gasoline) and partially lifted subsidies on fuel oil. As a result, the price of one liter of gasoline rose from 3,000 Syrian pounds to 8,000 pounds. The price of a liter of fuel oil rose from 700 pounds to 2,000, according to Agence France-Presse.

The government has been lifting various subsidies in the past year in an effort to improve the state’s deficit. The resulting price increases have led to protests throughout the country recently, according to The Associated Press.

Why it matters: The protests are significant because they are taking place in government territory. The Assad government and its allies have retaken most of the country from rebel groups, and protests in the areas it controls are relatively rare. The Syrian civil war began in 2011 when the government violently cracked down on protesters.

Protests have occurred in Suwayda in recent years, however. There were anti-government protests in the city in 2020 and 2022.

The poor economic situation also shows the limits of Syria’s reintegration into the Arab world. Syria was readmitted into the Arab League in May after being booted out in 2011 in response to the civil war.

Syria has been hoping for financial assistance from the Gulf on the backdrop of this. However, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been focused on humanitarian aid, not helping the Syrian economy, according to a Tuesday report from the Middle East Institute.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in