Living conditions reached a new low point for most Syrians in December, as inflation surged relentlessly and new austerity measures were introduced, including the reduction of electricity provision to three hours a day. With public desperation and pressure intensifying, the regime raised public sector wages, minimum wage, and retiree benefits, though increases fall far short of counteracting the soaring cost of living. Anger is also high among the business community, as growing numbers of manufacturers and industrialists choose to shut down operations rather than be subjected to the predatory practices of war profiteers linked to the regime. Between the onerous fees placed on businessmen and the dominance of the Syrian narcotics trade, which has begun to cause friction at international border crossings, the Syrian economy now resembles a mafia state. Furthermore, the scale of last year’s disastrous wheat planting season is also becoming increasingly apparent, with the specter of hunger looking inevitable in the year ahead without swift and massive intervention.