The depreciation of the Syrian pound has had an impact on economic life in all areas of Syria, including the north Aleppo countryside areas of 'Euphrates Shield' and 'Olive Branch' that have an extensive Turkish troop presence. To illustrate one aspect of economic and ordinary life impacted by the currency crisis, I conducted an interview with the director of the Sijjo branch of the Kabso restaurant chain that operates in north Aleppo countryside.
Q: Could you tell us a little about the Kabso restaurant? When was it established? Where are its branches? And the types of food in the restaurant?
A: Brother the restaurant was established in the town of Tel Refa'at in 2015. And after we were displaced from the village, we opened the first branch in the town of Azaz opposite the vegetable market, and a year later we opened the second branch in Sijjo and after the liberation of Afrin the third branch. Note of course the original branch is no longer present. And currently the branch in Azaz has been updated, opposite al-Jamal square.
The foods are mashwi chicken, chargrilled chicken, broasted chicken, musahab chicken, shawarma, Mexicano, hearts, western meals, the various types of mashawi, the various types of kubba, pizza, in addition to sweets and cocktails in the Afrin and Azaz branches.
Food items on sale at the Kabso restaurant. Photo from the director of the Sijjo branch.
Q: Of course the question that suggests itself: how has the decrease in the value of the Syrian pound impacted the restaurant business?
A: Of course it has greatly impacted the consumer in the first degree and the restaurants in the second degree. This thing has left us compelled to deal in currency besides the Syrian pound. Of course it has impacted the purchase activity and it has impacted greatly the revenue of the producers present.
Q: The things you buy for the restaurant from chicken and meat for example, do you buy them in the Syrian pound or Turkish lira?
A: The Turkish lira.
Q: And all the transactions inside the branches of the restaurant are in the Turkish lira?
Q: So do you import meat etc. from Turkey?
A: No brother, the source is in Syria but the transaction is in the Turkish lira, but the produce is Syrian.
Q: In your view what are the reasons for the collapse of the Syrian pound? And will the use of the Turkish lira be the only solution?
A: A number of reasons have led to the collapse of the Syrian pound among them economic and among them political etc. But in my personal opinion the replacement of the Syrian pound with the Turkish lira is an emergency solution in the current time because the one most greatly harmed is the citizen.
Q: So in the end what is the solution in the long-term?
A: This is something that will be determined by general stability in the area in the long term. In the event that the Syrian pound declines, the replacement is the Turkish currency of course.