The red carpet is rolled out once again in Syria for Bashar al-Assad who was sworn in this Saturday in Damascus for a fourth term as president.

In power for 21 years

In power since 2000, he was triumphantly re-elected last May, without real opposition, with more than 95% of the vote. A ballot whose legitimacy has been denounced by the European Union and the United States.

His priority: rebuilding a country in ruins

During his inauguration speech, Bashar al-Assad set the priorities for his new mandate: the Syrian president intends to rebuild a country devastated by years of war, and in the grip of a serious economic and financial crisis. Syria is experiencing a historic depreciation of its currency, galloping inflation and a poverty rate that affects 80% of the population, according to the UN.

The crisis has been amplified by international sanctions and the economic and financial collapse in neighboring Lebanon, where banks have been imposing draconian restrictions on withdrawals since autumn 2019. “The biggest obstacle right now is the Syrian funds frozen in Lebanese banks”, has the president in his speech, estimating their amounts at tens of billions of dollars.

Under financial pressure, the Syrian government in recent weeks has raised the prices of unsubsidized gasoline, diesel, bread, sugar and rice, while power outages have worsened, with rationing reaching around 20. hours per day.

Another priority: Eradicate rebel groups

The other priority of Bashar al-Assad is to take back all of Syrian territory, while part of the province of Idleb, in the north-west, is still in the hands of rebel groups, as are the areas under domination. Kurds.

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