The Syrian Central Bank on 2 July 2017 put into circulation a new 2,000 Syrian Lira ($3.9) banknote that has the face of country’s current President Bashar Assad.
This is the first time that President Bashar Assad is being depicted on the country’s currency since he took office 17 years ago. The move comes at a time when Assad’s government is boasting military successes against the armed rebellion occurring across the country.
The country’s currency previously only carried images of historic icons or pictures of Assad’s father, Hafez Assad.
Speaking on the development, the Syrian Central Bank Governor Duraid Durgham said that the notes were printed years ago but the decision to put them into circulation was delayed "due to the circumstances of the war and exchange rate fluctuations". He added that they were released now due to wear and tear of the existing notes.
The new note is equal to around $4 at current exchange rates. Syria’s seven-year-long civil war that began in 2011 as a part of Arab Spring has contributed much to its currency’s steep fall. Its currency has fallen from 47 pounds/lira to the dollar in 2010 to 500 pounds/ lira to the dollar at present.
Inflation has also soared in the country, reaching an all-time high in 2013 at over 120 percent. Estimates in 2016 put the inflation rate at 50 percent.
The new note was put into circulation in the country’s capital and largest city, Damascus and a number of other provinces.
The Arab Spring
• The Arab Spring was a revolutionary wave of both violent and non-violent demonstrations, protests, riots and coups in North Africa and the Middle East that began on 17 December 2010 in Tunisia with the Tunisian Revolution.
• The Tunisian Revolution effect spread strongly to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, leading to the toppling of the existing regime in some countries and rise of violence followed by civil wars or insurgencies in others.
• Protests and sustained street demonstrations engulfed the Middle East including in countries such as Morocco, Bahrain, Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan.
• Minor protests also occurred in Djibouti, Mauritania, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.
• The initial wave of protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from the authorities and pro-government militias and counter-demonstrators.
• These clashes resulted in large-scale conflicts that remain unresolved even today including the Syrian Civil War, Yemeni Civil War and the Libyan Civil War.
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