Hama activist: Regime waging war against 'fundamental sources of life'

Residents of opposition-held territories across Syria must find alternative ways to secure electricity amidst an ongoing cutoff by the regime “as a policy of collective punishment,” to areas no longer under its control, Ibrahim a-Shimali, a Hama-based correspondent for the Umayya Media Center tells Syria Direct.

With no regime-supplied electricity, residents of some rebel-held areas subscribe to local networks of generators, paying relatively high sums to avoid living in darkness.

The struggle for electricity is one facet of “a different kind of warfare,” a-Shimali tells Noura Hourani, “war against the fundamental sources of life, like water and electricity.”

Q: You said that rebel-controlled areas do not have electricity. How do people live there?

In opposition-held areas, the people have not seen electricity for around two years. They depend on the so-called “subscription system.” Traders buy large generators which, depending on their capacity, can provide power for 200 houses or an entire neighborhood according to demand.

People pay according to how many amperes of electricity they consume. In the Hama countryside, each amp costs SP1,500 [approximately $8], so if a household were to consume 3 amps in a month the bill would be SP4,500 [$24].

Q: Why does the regime cut off opposition-held areas from electricity, in your opinion?

The regime cuts off the electricity to areas it no longer controls as a policy of collective punishment for the people. It even targets power plants that it no longer controls [with airstrikes], as happened with the Zayzoun station in the Hama countryside [this past August].

Q: How does the lack of electricity affect people?

The regime is using a different kind of warfare—war against the fundamental sources of life, like water and electricity. This multiplies people’s suffering.

Until now, people in some areas are still afraid to light a candle at night for fear of being bombed by regime planes. Also, the bills for the [electric] subscriptions are costly, as most people have lost their jobs and livelihoods.

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award.

Maria Nelson

Maria Nelson was a 2014-2015 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. She holds a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, with a certificate in Arabic Language and Culture.