As mentioned in a previous interview, the People's Municipal Office is responsible for services provision at the locality level in the areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces. This interview (conducted on 24 June 2020) is with the media guy of the People's Municipal Office in the locality of al-Basira (/al-Busayra) in Deir az-Zor countryside. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in al-Basira currently? What are its main tribes? And what is the proportion of original inhabitants who have returned to the locality since its liberation from Da'esh [Islamic State]?
A: The number of inhabitants currently is around 35,000. The tribes are al-Aikdat, al-Bakara, Albu Shalhum and al-Kal'ayeen. The number of original inhabitants who have returned is around 25,000.
Q: How is the services and humanitarian situation in the locality generally?
A: The services situation is good like sewage: there are projects and we are working on them. But the humanitarian situation was previously very good but after the rise of the dollar it has become bad.
Q: Is there national-grid electricity currently? Or does everything come from generators?
A: The electricity is currently generators but the municipal office is supporting the generators with mazout [heavy fuel] substance.
Q: As for the water is it available in the residential homes?
A: The water is available.
Q: Available constantly?
A: Yes available because there is a services line connecting to the water station so the water is available constantly.
Q: What are the most important projects of the municipal office since the liberation of al-Basira?
A: The most important projects: repairing the sewage, laying asphalt on the streets and there are beautification projects for the area underway.
Q: Beautification projects for example planting trees on some of the streets?
A: Projects including beautification of the circles of al-Basira [akin to town squares] and al-Jazeera al-Wastiya for Ashreen street in the town of al-Basira. And there is a flight of steps in al-Basira: its project is also underway.
Q: Can you talk more about the impact of the rise of the price of the dollar on life in al-Basira? And how has the municipal office tried to reduce the pressure on the citizen?
A: After the rise of the price of the dollar the citizen has begun suffering from great problems, the most important of which are bread and food goods. The municipal office has supported the ovens with mazout substance, flour and yeast to reduce the price of bread for the citizen. And as for food goods, it has undertaken patrols of the business shops as well as regulation of prices and prevention of manipulation of them.
Q: Can you give examples of the rise of the prices of goods? For example prices of bread, meat etc.
A: Yes: the bread's kilogram price became 200 Syrian pounds and after supporting the ovens with mazout substance and flour it became 85 Syrian pounds. And the meats were 11,000 Syrian pounds per kilo, but after the provisional campaigns upon the markets [i.e. campaigns to check and regulate prices] they became 8000 Syrian pounds. And for example oil was 9000 Syrian pounds for 4 litres, and now it is 8000 Syrian pounds.
Q: Yes, but the problem is that if the depreciation of the value of the Syrian pound continues the control of the prices becomes very difficult?
A: Yes, but what comes into our hands, we deal with it.
Q: Is there the possibility of transfer to another currency to reduce the pressure? For example the U.S. dollar? And do you fear the impact of the Caesar Law on your areas?
A: Of course we fear for our areas from the impacts of the law but as for replacing the currency of the Syrian pound with the dollar, this question I cannot answer.
Q: Frankly I expect it is very difficult to move to another currency. There is no replacement for the Syrian pound.
A: Of course difficult. There is no other currency besides it.
Q: Finally what is the number of members of the municipal office? And its main offices?
A: Around 40 members. There are 10 offices.
Q: What are its offices exactly?
A: The joint presidency, the Diwan, the financial office, provision office, control office, transport office, health office, media office, technical office, inquiries office.