Saturday, March 12, 2005

Shorja announces sanctions on Syria!

Just to introduce Shorja to you, Shorja is Baghdad's (actually Iraq's) main trading center.
It's a very old neighborhood that lies in the heart of Baghdad. The streets of this area hosts markets that deal with all kinds of goods and you can find literally everything you want there, I mean EVERYTHING starting from nails and screws to PS2 and satellite receivers, foreign currencies, cigarettes, food stuff and the list doesn't end with snakes and goldfish!

My cousin who's a shop keeper has a weekly tour in Shorja to reequip his shop with the items that he had sold throughout the past week.

Yesterday I was there in his shop when he returned from his tour without some of the items he had on his purchase list, as he reported to his brother who runs the shop with him.

From my experience as an ex-shop keeper I expected that one or more of the roads from Jordan, Syria or Turkey has been closed but it wasn't the case this time.
My cousin explained saying:

I had a number of Syrian products which I couldn't find this time. The wholesaler that I usually deal with said that there has been some kind of an agreement among many of the main Iraqi importers to boycott the Syrian products.

When I asked him for the reason behind this decision he repeated the wholesaler's words to me:

After what we've seen on TV, we thought that it's totally unpatriotic to trade with that country; the Syrian government is benefiting from trade with Iraq and using the money they get to fund the criminals who slaughter our people. Not only that; the ordinary people themselves started to prefer products from other origins over Syrian products so we thought that it's better to search for alternatives for the boycotted items.

Frankly speaking the story amazed me because for the 1st time I see merchants putting economic benefit in the second place and the decision was made spontaneously, unlike Saddam's orders of boycotting western products back in the early 90's which forced wholesalers as well as small shop keepers who depended on those products for a great portion of their incomes to adopt a high level of secrecy in their exchanges.

This time it's a result of the growing sense among the public that the Syrian Ba'athist regime must be held accountable for a great deal of terrorism in Iraq. Maybe this isn't going to change much of the situation but it indicates that the people have begun to realize their duties towards their country.
They began to understand that fighting terror is not only the responsibility of the coalition or the government and that they can always contribute to securing their country even with a small part like this initiative.

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