by Hummam Sheikh Ali
DAMASCUS, May 27 (Xinhua) -- After the victories the Syrian army in areas surrounding the capital Damascus, the Damascenes said they feel more secure in terms of the overall situation, but not on the economic side, as the prices soar year after year.
In the Bab Srijeh marketplace, in the old part of Damascus, people thronged that ancient, popular souk to do the shopping of the holy month of Ramadan.
Shopkeepers were arranging all kinds of foods and sweets and the fronts of their shops were glamors, but such glamor didn't reflect quite as much on the faces of the passersby.
Most people would come close to the shops' fronts carefully examining the prices, few place an order, while others turn their faces sideways in dismay and move forward.
Tarek, a shopper, was quick to complain about the high prices, saying the prices have doubled since last year.
Still, he chose to look to the positive side, saying that the security in the capital has been largely improved with the successful military operations around the capital.
"As for the prices, it's still high and higher than last year maybe because it's the first day of Ramadan, I don't know, maybe it could change tomorrow, but as for the security situation it's better and much better than previous years. Thank God there is no mortar shelling anymore," he said.
On the other side of the road, Muhammad stood in front of a sweet shop, carefully examining the prices. He also noted that the situation in terms of security is improving, and becoming more stable.
"This year we have more peace and stability and of course in Damascus, the situation is better and people have filled this marketplace as you can see," he told Xinhua.
During the past few months, the Syrian army succeeded to capture areas around Damascus, such as Qaboun and Barzeh, where the rebels agreed to evacuate after feeling completely helpless by the advance of the Syrian army and its allies.
Such victories have positively reverberated on the overall situation of the capital as the rate of attacks and mortar shells sharply declined to almost none.
But despite the progress in the security situation, the economic issues are far from being resolved, as the prices kept hiking year after year.
By observing and comparing the prices before the war, all prices have increased tenfolds since the beginning of the crisis over six years ago, and such increase have negatively impacted the livelihood of the Syrians.
And such increase was also mentioned by shopkeepers, who blamed the prolonged crisis and the lack of actual buyers, as most of those flocking into the souk were window-shoppers.
Samer, a sweet shop owner, said "the turnout of people in Ramadan is fine this year but I feel that last year was better than this year."
He told Xinhua the situation is worst comparing the first day of the Ramadan of last year.
Other shopkeepers were a bit more optimistic, like Abu Nour, who said the people seem more relaxed this year.
"Thank God this year, people seem to be more relaxed than previous years. People feel safer now in the capital and even outside the capital like towns of Ain Khadra and Figeh. I feel that the country is moving to become better and it will return to be as it used to be before the crisis and even better," he said.
Throughout the last six years, the government has tried to cope with the situation and undertake several measures to keep the prices reasonable; but the sharp declines in the value of the Syrian pound against hard currencies and the Western sanctions on Syria largely contributed to the deterioration of the quality of life for the Syrians.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia said in a report last year that over 80 percent of the Syrian people have become under the poverty line.