Syrians in occupied Hasakah launched mass protests just as Washington’s proxy militia continues to face an armed uprising by Arab tribes in neighboring Deir Ezzor
Syrians living under the de-facto rule of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in Hasakah governorate have launched mass demonstrations and a general strike to oppose a fuel price hike of over 300 percent for public transport and industrial vehicles.
The unprecedented protests have grown in scope after Kurdish authorities announced that reversing the decision is “almost impossible,” citing the country’s deteriorating economic situation. While fuel prices for vehicles were hiked from 525 to 2,050 Syrian pounds, the fuel price for heating, agriculture, and electric generators remains the same.
Protesters have been blocking roads and shutting down businesses for several days in the towns of Qamishli, Rumailan, and Mabada, accusing the US-backed authorities of plundering Syria’s wealth for their own benefit. Demonstrations have also been called in the regions of Raqqa, Manbij, and Ain al-Arab, which could lead to significant economic repercussions in all areas under the control of the AANES and its official military force – the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“The people went out to express their rejection of the policies of AANES, which aim to impoverish the people and push them to migrate,” a demonstrator in Qamishli told Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.
“There was a consensus to provide and improve the quality of diesel in exchange for increasing its prices,” the head of the AANES fuel management authority, Abeer Khaled, recently told reporters, adding that “it is difficult to retract or modify the decision to increase [considering that] raising prices will contribute to reducing fuel smuggling operations outside areas under the control of AANES.
In 2021, AANES reversed a similar decision to hike fuel prices after intense clashes between locals and the SDF left several dead.
The territory occupied by the SDF and the US army in Syria’s northeast houses the country’s largest oil and gas fields, as well as vast wheat fields.
Washington’s forces regularly smuggle these resources via convoys to their bases in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), where the oil and gas are sold to fund the operations of US proxy militias and de facto authorities.
The protests in Hasakah come as armed operations continue in neighboring Deir Ezzor governorate by Syrian Arab tribes who have been staging a rebellion against Kurdish forces. While heavy clashes have subsided for the most part, the region is still seeing sporadic attacks targeting the SDF.