Kremlin prepares billions for Syria

How much will the post-war reconstruction of a destroyed country cost to the Russian budget?

The Syrian government will soon regain control of the entire territory of the country, after which the West will have the only “cudgel” to influence Damascus — this is funding the post-war reconstruction of the country. Both Russia and Iran are ready to actively participate in it, which promises them the strengthening of political positions in the Middle East.

 

The United States has put forward an ultimatum to Russia.

 

The civil war in Syria is nearing completion, and plans for the post-war reconstruction of the country are being increasingly discussed. We talked about this at the summit of the four countries with the participation of the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany, which was held in Istanbul on October 27.

 

However, all parties to the conflict have their own views on post-war Syria. In particular, representatives of the United States have already made it clear that those countries that have helped to destroy it should be participating in the restoration – meaning Russia and Iran. The EU leaders also state that they are ready to consider the issue of restoring Syria, but only when the transfer of power from Bashar al-Assad formally begins.

 

Europeans believe that after the inevitable military victory of Damascus, supported by Russia, financing reconstruction is the only tool left in the hands of the international community to exert pressure on Assad and his allies.

 

That is why Russia wants the issues of post-war reconstruction to be separated from any political process. Of course, Damascus has its own position: back in April, the Law “On Property” was passed, which dealt with issues of redevelopment of destroyed and abandoned settlements. In particular, property owners in areas subject to the law were required to prove ownership within 30 days in order to receive a share in investment projects – otherwise they would be nationalized by the local government.

 

The emergence of this law has caused a strong reaction among Syrian refugees, most of whom are now in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe (especially in Germany). After all, they are not able to return to the country to prove ownership of the property.

 

One of the most ambitious redevelopment projects that the government of Bashar al-Assad is currently involved in is the new suburb of Damascus, which is called Marota: there will be shopping centers and luxury housing. Marota should become a symbol of not only the post-war reconstruction of the country, but also the acquisition of former political power by Syria.

 

Iran also intends to invest in the restoration of the Syrian economy: it will restore a power station in Deir-ez’Zo’er province, destroyed mobile communication networks and oil reservoirs, and also invest in agriculture in Latakia, a phosphate mining mine in Homs province. However, these ambitious plans may turn out to be unrealizable against the background of the introduction of American sanctions against Iran, which will most certainly undermine the country’s economy.

 

Russia has already seized the initiative from the West.

 

On the eve of the Istanbul summit, there was a lot of news about the restoration of the economic potential of Syria. Russia announced the construction in the Syrian territory of the largest hub for handling grain in the countries of the Middle East, the beginning of imports of Syrian olive oil, and an educational fair for Syrian students who want to study in Russia was held in Damascus.

 

How realistic are all these plans, and how much will the final solution of the “Syrian” issue cost Russia? The Free Press talks about this with our permanent expert – Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Mikhail Roshchin.

 

– Mikhail Yuryevich, do not you think that the news about the construction of luxury housing in the south-west of Damascus and the export of olive oil are discordant with the news that comes from the combat zones in Idlib?

 

– The issue of Idlib is still awaiting its decision, but it cannot slow down the progressive process of restoring the sovereign rights of Syria on its territory.

 

There is, of course, an element of propaganda in discussing the plans for the post-war development of Syria, but Russia has no choice but to help Syria. It is difficult to say how much and how these investments and efforts will pay off, but it is obvious to me that such participation will be one of the additional stimuli for the growth of the Russian economy. At one time there were many skeptical comments about the construction of the Crimean Bridge, but in the end it was successfully and quickly completed.

 

  • But who exactly should be engaged in restoration: here, let’s say, the United States “nod” to Russia and Iran …

– The problem of post-war reconstruction of Syria is not so simple, but not insoluble. Western countries and Arabian monarchies will definitely not help in this. The main burden falls on the share of Russia and Iran, but both our countries are waging an active sanctions war with the West. I think it is quite likely that Turkey will join the reconstruction projects, especially in the Idlib area. I would not disregard Iraq, which itself was greatly affected by the aggressive actions of terrorists. For our country, participation in the restoration of Syria would mean attracting Russian companies to serious investment projects and, in the long run, participation in oil production. Syria has not been a major oil-producing country before, but over time the situation may change. I think Russia, Iran, and now Turkey have completely seized the initiative from Western countries and Arabian monarchies to settle in Syria. These countries have strengthened in recent years economically and militarily and have demonstrated their ability to solve political problems in the region without regard to those who recently considered it their inalienable right to do so.

– But who exactly will pay for all this? For example, in Yugoslavia, after the end of the war in 2000, a special tax was imposed, which was used for restoration work. But Damascus says it will produce oil on the shelf to cover part of the costs of redevelopment projects.

– I think Syria will begin to recover gradually. How quickly this will happen today, I think, no one will say. South Korea after the Korean War long stagnated until Park Chung-Hee came to power. Americans didn’t help their friends in the south. The decision on military assistance was political, but relatively not as expensive as it usually happens with Americans. A positive moment in post-war reconstruction is that a lot starts to be built from scratch, that is, using the most modern technologies, and this inevitably leads to the rapid modernization of production. In Syria, before the war, there were quite intelligent cadres of Middle Eastern standards. I hope this helps the Syrians.