Cryptocurrencies In Syria Are A Way To Avoid Sanctions

A region in northern Syria called Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan, spent the last six years at war. And while it is now in a truce, its economy is affected by the economic sanctions that countries like Turkey, Iraq and Iran put on it. The leaders who are behind the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, as the residents of Rojava call themselves, seek monetary independence.

Rojava gained its autonomy through military victories during the Syrian Civil War, gradually establishing and expanding a secular state based on the principles of democratic confederation: gender equality, democratic socialism, and ecological development.

Currently, the main currency in this area is the Syrian lira, the official currency of the nation.

For Erselan Serdem, a leader in the region’s technological development program, cryptocurrencies could be a superior alternative.

The region plans to implement new technology academies in autocratic communities with particular interest in cryptography and cryptocurrencies, Serdem said in a published report. He is in favor of a “confederative democracy” – that is, a system of direct, feminist, and ecological government, with  blockchain fundamental to achieve those objectives.

“[Rojava is] a revolutionary project that wants to build a new society based on anarchist principles, and that means law, defense, society and culture,” said bitcoin developer Amir Taaki.

Serdem believes that while achieving the adoption of a cryptocurrency throughout the region is an ambitious project, Rojava’s experience in war has given her the ability to organize herself effectively and set a positive example for the world.

“We have to think deeply about the future of the new system, and how people can organize and manage resources democratically without any form of centralization,” Serdem said. He called this tool a decentralized system of society.

Currently, the region suffers from one of the highest inflation rates on the planet, with an infrastructure developed around processing the large quantity of paper money in circulation. In addition to the economic restrictions imposed by foreign powers, sending money out of the region is complicated, or subject to very high commissions. In this sense, Serdem indicated that to make a transfer to Istanbul, they charge 10 percent.

“We believe that with cryptocurrencies we can lower this to 2 percent worldwide, not only with Istanbul.”

Taaki explained that the first step in making this possible is to equip exchange houses with bitcoin and educate residents to download a virtual wallet on their phones. But they need software that has been translated into their local language. Technologies such as Lightining Network (LN) can make this even faster, cheaper and safer.

Currently, they are investigating potential solutions that do not depend on the internet, such as cryptocurrencies transmitted by radio or paper currencies that are linked to digital currencies.

“We do not like to depend on the money of the Syrian government, which is state money, we want to exchange our own cryptocurrency,” Serdem said.

In this new Rojava society there is a system of cooperatives that fulfill different functions within society. There are organizations that are responsible for health, media or agriculture composed of volunteers who maintain the principle of non-aggression (do not initiate the use of force against another). Taaki explained that the technological committee will collaborate so that there are local critics to help in the trade between cooperatives.

“Cooperatives can trade with each other based on the currencies linked to a basket of products, or simply float freely in the market,” Taaki said.

Finally, this technological committee also plans to use blockchain technology for more than just the transfer of value. It will seek to apply the decentralized network in increasing transparency and control in governance. This would be done, for example, through intelligent contracts between the parties.

For Serdem this is not applied in a violent or institutional way, it is not a matter of forcibly imposing this idea, “it is about evolution”, of replacing or updating the old systems with new technologies.

“Rojava, is for me, the last opportunity for humans,” Serdem concluded.

This story was originally published in Spanish at Cripto247.


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