Whole cities and swaths of the country have been destroyed. Millions of civilians are displaced either within the country or outside its borders during six years of conflict.
The World Bank estimates that postwar reconstruction will cost in the hundreds of billions of dollars and the reconstruction of Syria has a pressing priority, but questions remain about where the money will come from, when it will come and under what conditions.
There is a growing debate about reconstruction in Syria in Western and regional policy circles. The European Union has been closely studying, while other Western governments are positioning themselves so that they can play a role in the reconstruction process.
Last month, the Syrian government hosted an international trade fair in Damascus. Staged at a fairground in the southern outskirts of the capital, near the airport, the exhibition was promoted as a sign of victory for President Bashar al-Assad.
The fair—last held in the summer of 2011, as Syria’s uprising was just turning into a terrorist war—“sends a message that most of the terror has ended … and they are at the start of the path towards reconstruction.
Russian, Iranian and Chinese companies headlined the list of attendees, which also included representatives of European firms.
The USA has said it will ensure no one contributes to reconstructing war-torn Syria – aside from those who helped destroy it, like Russia.
Already in 2013, the Pentagon published the Wright plan, which programmed the creation of a new state straddling Iraq and Syria in order to cut the Silk Road between Baghdad and Damascus.This mission was carried out by ISIS.
China invested in the Middle East with the sole idea of ensuring its supply of oil. It built refineries in Iraq which were inconveniently destroyed either by ISIS or by the Western Military Forces who were pretending to combat the ISIS.
Debating reconstruction today is happening at a time when, according to a recent report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Syria is witnessing its highest wave of violence since the fall of Eastern Aleppo.
The campaign’s military strategy is similar to that used to liberate Iraqi cities from ISIS control, which has led to wide-scale destruction of those cities’ infrastructures. The continuation of violence on this scale will inevitably raise the cost of post-war reconstruction even beyond the currently estimated figure of $500 billion.
With Russia positioning itself to play the role of key broker in Syria’s reconstruction, some regional states have taken steps to keep lines of communication with Moscow open despite political disagreements over Syria.
Although Damascus-controlled areas have been less affected than opposition controlled areas in terms of material destruction, it is likely that the Syrian government will funnel most funding to areas considered to be loyalist.
Syrian businessmen who are already part of the political elite have started forming new companies so that they can position themselves favorably in procurement processes for reconstruction projects.
With foreign donors and actors having to adjust their political positions in a bid to remain relevant, it is likely that these neglected areas will be left with no one advocating on their behalf, just the way the USA and Israel want it.
This is likely to keep thousands of refugees, who had fled these areas to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, abroad as they will have no homes to return to and no realistic prospects of restoring their livelihoods inside Syria.
ABC Flash Point Arab News 2018.