Reports | 6 09 2016
A full market divided to several different shops was formed in the Mezze district 86 in Damascus, the market is specialised in used and stolen hardware and house tools, known as the market of "revolution."
The story began around 2012 when most of the areas seized by the Syrian regime's army were looted, known later by the name-Tavish- by soldiers who transferred some of the loot to their homes or the homes of their officers and have sold the bulk of them. Vendors in these markets do not find anything wrong with identifying the sources of their merchandise at all, and quite the contrary, they boast that these properties are from areas dominated by the "Regime's Army".
Sana did not expect to find her recorder shown among a "used stolen" store, after she was displaced from her home in Damascus suburbs two years ago, and lost hope to return to it.
She laughed telling us the story that happened to her about a year ago, while she was on a visit to one of her friends in the district of Mezze 86, "while passing nearby a store that sells looted items, I decided to enter to see the exhibits, I thought for a moment that I might find something belong to my house and I the idea made me smile, but the idea turned into the ridiculous fact, I found in the shop my voice recorder, one of the first electrical appliances that I and my husband bought at the beginning of our marriage. "
Sana then asked the seller for its price, he told her that it is equal to 1,000 pounds, and he lost the hope to make anyone buy it because customers did not want it, so Sana was able to get her recorder back immediately!
The Dollar price has no effect at all!
Unlike all the goods in local markets in Syria, which are affected by the price of the dollar exchange rate against the pound, there is no impact of the exchange rate on the goods in this market, where the looted item is estimated according to the cost of transferring it from its region to the shops, and the cost is calculated according to the amount determined by soldiers who looted the goods from the homes of their owners in the first place. In addition to the money they pay on the military checkpoints in order to allow their pass, and finally the cost of transferring goods to the shops.
Hassan the owner of a shop said: "The cost of the last shipment of goods received about three months ago, was about 500 thousand Syrian pounds, distributed on loading workers, checkpoints, and the car fare from (Zabadani) to (Mezze)."
Hassan added that selling prices estimated by the goods’ cost, in addition to the profit you want to get.
Military movement controls the prices
Stolen items’ prices affected clearly by the movement of the regime's army, when it controls a new area, then prices fall dramatically due to the large number of stolen items, but in the days that the military operations are not advancing, prices rise significantly, because there is no new merchandise in the shops and the owners need to sell, this is when the soldiers can control prices as they like.
Majd, the owner of one of these shops, is waiting for the arrival of new goods from areas in Ghouta in Damascus countryside, which is dominated by the regime's army recently.
He said: "the shops will be dumping with goods, and that will rebound the market again after the recession lasted months after Zabadani battles." And stressed that in that period, large quantities of high quality goods were available at very cheap prices.
In periods when looted items are not available, vendors depends on the used goods sold by their original owners, for the purpose of travel or renovating houses.
Furniture and electrical appliances are sold cheaply, compared to the local market, here are some of the materials’ prices:
And a variety of other things such as doors, windows, curtains, clothes, and many kinds of house tools, but the thing that is not available at all among the looted items, is televisions screens, as the soldiers take them to their homes directly.
Officers greatest influence
Sometimes it happens that one of the officers seizes on the property of a certain region, dominated by the army, so he controls the prices of the looted items after taking what he wants to his home or the homes of relatives, and the worker-soldiers act on his behalf, they are stealing, selling as he pleases, and this infuriates soldiers.
“Abu Zein” a soldier in the regime army, who had entered Jobar area earlier, said: "It is not reasonable after we have made every effort, all the profits go to the colonel in charge of us, we offer sacrifices and they put us in the line of fire to fight the insurgents and throw us in dangerous areas, and when the time comes to take advantage, they take over everything."
One shop owner in the market has a commercial record as he said, he gives the buyer a regular bill of the sold item, what makes it easy to transfer the sold goods through the checkpoints properly.
But other shops do not give this bill, and the man confirms that transferring goods within the Mezze district does not need any bill, despite the fact that the transfer of the furniture or electrical appliances from one area to another or even within the same region in Damascus, needs security approval and accurate bills and a paper signed by the mayor of the region.
Used tools are the poor’s haven
The "market revolution" customers are often from the poor class, who are unable to buy new tools to their homes, they are maybe soldiers with meagre salaries, or a new married couple, who can’t buy new items because of rising prices in the capital Damascus.
"I resorted to these shops to buy tools for the home of my son who intend to get married soon, prices here are very cheap compared to the markets, and it is likely to find affordable pieces with high quality" says Abu Ali, a shopper, and added: "I can’t buy new furniture with my humble pension salary."
For Um Ghaith, she refuses categorically to purchase from these stores, she says she can't use any of these items, and her mind doesn't accept to purchase stolen goods from Syrian homes of Syrian people exactly like her, she said that those people were safe in one day, and considers that this act is forbidden in word and deed.