The President of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad issued an administrative order on July 17, 2023, to discontinue the retention and recall of non-commissioned officers and reserve personnel "who are retained, and recently enrolled" whose actual reserve service reached six and a half years or more up until July 31 inclusively. This includes two categories:
· Those who were retained: refers to those who completed the mandatory service stipulated in Syrian law, set at a year and a half, and have not yet been discharged after its completion.
· Those who were recalled: includes those who performed the mandatory service – a year and a half – were discharged, and after discharge were mobilized in a military unit suitable to their specialization during their mandatory service and were recalled to service again according to the general mobilization law in effect in Syria by the mobilization department affiliated with the regime forces command.
For the second year in a row, an administrative order was issued to end the retention and recall for the two aforementioned categories. This suggests a number of implications, most notably:
· The current and previous decisions both specify the duration of the reserve service as 6 and a half years or more, which seems that the regime is striving to shape a collective public opinion that pushes those obliged in its regions to choose either to perform the service then leave the country with official documents that allow them to return whenever they want, or leaving the country in an irregular way, thus becoming legally pursued. Therefore, the regime hopes to attract those who evaded mandatory military service, through illegal or legal means such as "postpone study dues".
· The deteriorating economic situation suffered by the regime, and the resulting grumbling, and therefore an attempt to partially letting off steam at the grass-roots level with taking the decision to discharge this particularly young category, coinciding with the cessation of major military operations.
· Units established following Russian intervention, operating contractually (like "the Fourth Corps, the Fifth Corps, and Division 25"), carry out tasks and military operations performed by the military units of the regime forces in light of what they are suffering from slackness in their organizational human and technical structure (combat equipment and readiness) and the tendency to enhance the combat capability of these forces. Evidence of this is their participation in implementing military training projects with Russia, the latest of which was at the beginning of July 2023, with the 25th Division - Special Tasks.
· The regime practices "public concealment" concerning military affairs, in contrast to the transparency common in most armies that announce human force statistics, i.e., conscripts, reservists, those are discharged, and those who are recently enrolled". The regime's failure to announce statistics relating to this decision underscores the small number of people it impacts and its minimal military and societal influence.
In conclusion, the regime media's celebration and promotion of the decision reflect the state of despair and discontent within the social environment under its control. The regime appears to use this decision as a means to instill temporary hope for imminent relief in this environment, especially given the concurrent rumors of an increase in salaries for state institution employees.