Image by Russian Ministry of Defence
After waging an aggressive air campaign in Syria against the regime’s enemies, along with the Syrian armed forces and Iranian-backed militias, Russia is now looking to rebuild the area in which it will maintain a military presence for the long term in support of the Assad regime. Russia is looking for the West’s help in that effort.
Russia and the West sparred over the reconstruction of Syria on Friday as its military forces continue to capture opposition-held territory and Syrians express hope that the country’s seven-year civil war is nearing an end. France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre made clear at a Security Council meeting that the European Union will not participate in rebuilding Syria “unless a political transition is effectively carried out — with constitutional and electoral processes carried out in a sincere and meaningful way.” Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky, whose country is militarily backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, countered that reconstruction should not be linked to politics and the international community should join the country’s recovery effort now, reported Associated Press.
Estimates for reconstruction exceed $200 billion and could last 15 years, not including Iraq’s destruction after the fight against the Islamic State.
Russia held out the return of migrants as a carrot to the West to help in Syria’s rebuilding.
Russia’s Polyansky told the council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria that “a critical challenge” to the Assad government’s call this month for the return of over 5.6 million refugees “is the revival of the Syrian national economy — the generation of new jobs.”
“The country is experiencing an acute shortage of construction materials and heavy equipment for which fuel is necessary,” he said, and the educational and health systems need to be revived. “It would be wise for all international partners to join assistance in the Syrian recovery effort, to eschew artificial linkages to political momentum.”
“And, of course, stabilization will help to advance the U.N.-led political settlement process which is unanimously supported by all members of the Security Council,” Polyansky said, reported AP.
President Donald Trump has long advocated the return of Syrian refugees ‘to their own country’ and a Western effort to protect them there.