The Economic Situation in Raqqa, from neglect to exploitation

Abdalaziz Alhamza “RBSS”

Raqqa city was built in the third century BC, Abbasid Harun al-Rashid used Raqqa as his summer capital and from it all troops were launched to face the Byzantine Empire. In 1258, Mongols destroyed Raqqa to be rebuilt later in the Ottoman era as it is in the trading passage. Since that Raqqa was taken as home from the Arabs in the region and then several Kurdish, Circassia and Armenian families moved to it and just like its neighbors of eastern cities Raqqa faced a total governmental neglect by Al Baath regime.
Governmental Neglect
Raqqa province is featured with large areas suitable for agricultural, as well as water resources, Euphrates and Balikh. Raqqa is the main resource of Syrian Wheat with 600 thousand tons in 2005 along with cotton and maize.
Raqqa province is also the main resource for sheep, especially cattle which was counted more than 33 million sheep in 2009. Raqqa also have underground riches such as oil and gas.
Despite all that, the city suffered a governmental neglect. The Syrian regime neglected purposely all the eastern cities in Syria. the economy of the province remained very simple and based on trading raw materials through government, farmers had to market their products through government departments where these products are moved to other provinces for industry which left the city with the least amount of jobs and forced people to work in agricultural only or in the government departments along with a very simple commercial sector barely provide people’s everyday needs.
Drought and lack of rain played a major role in the deterioration of the economic situation in Raqqa in the last two decades which forced farmers to stop their activities not to mention the economic policies taken by Assad regime which led to catastrophic results forced farmers to move from their lands and move to cities or even travel outside Syria.
Agricultural after the liberation
People of Raqqa were not able to make any improves to agricultural sector after the liberation because the challenges were very huge compared to the available resources because the local councils were poorly funded, they could not provide more than the fuel. On the other hand, the opposition institutions did not provide anything at all.
When ISIS controlled over the city in January 2014, the group allowed selling wheat and cotton to places outside the group’s areas but imposed a lot of taxes on that. When YPG and SDF advanced in Tal Abyad and its suburbs they burned large lands and displaced their owners.
Closing the border gate in Tal Abyad also played a role in the decline of the trading process not to mention the heavy bombardment by the Russian warplanes and the International Coalition.
As for those who are still in Raqqa who do not have any source of fund but working in selling fuel or depending on their relatives outside Syria. In the upcoming days, SDF forces will completely blockade the city, how the humanitarian situation would be then?

media activist from the city of Raqqa, student at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Euphrates. Director of the Media Office of Raqqa, founding member of "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", founding member of the documentary project of "Sound and Picture". I work in documenting violations committed by Assad's regime and ISIS group and extremist organizations inside the city of Raqqa, as I work in programming, design and visual media. I hold a certificate of coach in digital security, and a certificate of journalist coach, and a certificate in documenting violations against human rights, and a certificate in electronic advocacy. I underwent a training under the supervision of "Cyber-Arabs" in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace "IWPR", about the management of electronic websites and leadership of advocacy campaigns, and a training of press photography under the supervision of the photojournalist "Peter Hove Olesen".