The recent plunge of the Turkish lira has not only hit people living in Turkey but also Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in Syria who are paid in the Turkish currency, according to a story by Reuters on Tuesday.
For those employed by Turkish-backed authorities and paid in lira, including security forces, an international sell-off of the currency, resulting in it losing around 40 percent of its value to the dollar so far this year, has brought new hardship.
The lira has also plunged in value against Syria’s official currency, the Damascus-minted Syrian pound.
The lira began to weaken rapidly amid concerns over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s influence on monetary policy but was driven to record lows over a dispute between the United States and Ankara.
The dispute centers on the fate of an American Christian pastor detained in Turkey on terrorism charges and which saw Washington slap tariffs on some Turkish imports.
The Turkish lira’s volatility is a new illustration of how the involvement of regional or global powers in Syria’s fractured warscape can change things for people on the ground.
Besides Turkey, Iran, Russia and the United States each have forces deployed in Syria as well as providing other forms of support in territory held by their allies.
“When the Turkish lira began to lose value against the Syrian pound our salaries became worthless,” said Ghassan Kinno, 23, a fighter with a FSA rebel faction in Azaz.
“The fighter receives his salary and goes to the market… and it’s barely enough for one week. This is the reality we are witnessing now. The situation is very difficult and there is no solution,” he said.
“What is better for us is to be paid in Syrian pounds since we are spending our money in the Syrian territories. But in the end we have to abide by the rules of the side that supports us,” said Kinno.