Siria, dall’Iran linea di credito per salvare la lira

(Retuers/Khaled Hariir, 23 aprile 2013)L’Iran, la cui economia è in grosse difficoltà a causa tra l’altro delle sanzioni occidentali, ha concesso al suo alleato la famiglia Asad al potere in Siria una linea di credito di un miliardo di dollari per stabilizzare la lira siriana.

La valuta nazionale sta infatti perdendo sempre più valore rispetto al dollaro, come racconta questo articolo del The Daily Star libanese. La notizia è ufficiale ed è stata riferita il 18 giugno dal governatore della Banca centrale siriana, Adib Mayale.

(The Daily Star, 19 giugno 2013). The head of the Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, said Tuesday that the bank would draw on a $1 billion credit line from Iran in order to stabilize the pound after it plummeted to a record low against the dollar this week. In response to mounting demands from Syrian banks to buy foreign currency from the central bank, the government Tuesday implemented the appropriate mechanisms to activate the credit line Iran extended in January, which would fund “a big part of the market needs,” Mayaleh said.

“CBS will provide the exchanging institutions and the Commercial Bank of Syria with the foreign currency by acceptable prices in order to meet the citizens’ requests to buy the foreign currencies according to regulations which sell each citizen an amount of 1000 euro per month,” Mayaleh said in a statement quoted in the Syrian state news agency, SANA.

The official exchange rate for the currency fell 0.5 percent to 99.5295 per dollar on June 14 following U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would arm Syrian rebels and had weakened to 99.91 as of Tuesday.

One Beirut money trader who refused to be quoted by name said the black-market exchange rate of the pound hit 250 to the dollar over the weekend, prompting him to stop buying the currency completely. He said that even when the pound rebounded to 160 briefly Monday morning he still turned down multiple requests.

“It will hit 500 by Ramadan because they won’t have any money left at the central bank,” the dealer predicted.

Five other money exchangers in Beirut told The Daily Star that they have continued to exchange pounds even as the disparity between the official and black-market rates of the currency has widened over the past year against the dollar. The other dealers were selling the pound at between 180 to 200 to the dollar Tuesday.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki said the government would continue to work on a package of measures to stabilize the Syrian pound against foreign currencies and preserve the national economy “in the face of the media and economic war.”

Halki also confirmed the government still held large foreign currency reserves to feed in to the local market.

Reinoud Leenders, a Syrian expert at the Department of Middle East Studies at King’s College, said the central bank was able to stave off such a precipitous drop in the value of the pound for longer than many observers had expected.

“There has been a devaluation of the Syrian pound, but there [had] not been a double-digit devaluation when compared to the dollar, so they must be leaning on pretty substantial foreign currency reserves which must be coming from Iran, Russia,” he told The Daily Star. “It’s amazing, especially if you compare what happened to [the value of currency in] Iraq.”

Leenders warned that while assistance from Iran has been “substantial” so far, the country’s resources are far from unlimited.

“I guess the Russians are stepping in pretty substantial ways,” he said.

At the very least, Syria discussed receiving $3.5 billion in credit from Iran in a meeting in Damascus Monday.

The Special Advisor to the Iranian Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Hassan Kazemi Qomi said in a statement after the meeting that Iran planned to activate previously pledged loan facilities “as soon as possible,” according to FARS news agency.

Most of the Beirut money exchangers interviewed told The Daily Star they had no intention of rejecting pounds in the future – even if the exchange rate did reach 500 to the dollar.

“There will always be someone going to Damascus who will be willing to buy pounds,” another currency exchange store owner in Hamra said.