No One Wants To Spend Money To Rebuild Syria

Deir al-Zour, like many sites in Syria, has been laid waste by the war, leaving more Syrians fleeing as aid runs low. Credit Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic: No One Wants to Help Bashar al-Assad Rebuild Syria

The Syrian president appears comfortably in power, but his supporters in Moscow can’t afford to pay for reconstruction; his adversaries in the West can, but won’t.

When the Syrian conflict began, in March 2011, Bashar al-Assad seemed likely to be ousted, like other strongmen swept away by the Arab Spring. Eight years later, Assad is still president, but of a fractured, demolished country. Now one big question is: Who will pay to rebuild Syria?

The bill is large. The United Nations estimates the cost of reconstruction at $250 billion (about four times Syria’s prewar GDP, or roughly the size of Egypt’s economy). Russia wants the West to pay up; its military support is essential to the Assad regime’s survival, but it has its own economic constraints. However, the United States and its Western allies have adamantly refused, absent meaningful political changes. There would be “no reconstruction without [a] political transition,” a French embassy spokeswoman recently told me. Last fall, Nikki Haley, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed as “absurd” Russia’s push for Western support. That leaves 18 million people, about a third of whom are refugees, facing an uncertain future in a country that’s far worse off now than it was when the conflict began.

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WNU Editor: As long as Assad is President, and there is a presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in the country, there will be no reconstruction funds. But for Assad and his allies, they will accept that as the price to pay to stay in power, even at the expense of the country.

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