Typing “Reconstruction of Syria” into a Google search, reveals, after a careful reading and analysis of the search results, the extent to which those who see to resolve the crisis are keen to reap the spoils of war.
Those who claim to help the Syrian people find stability and replace their war-damaged homes with new and modern housing, may appear innocent. But the Syrian person can easily look deeper to reveal they in fact contribute to the destruction, through loaning, bribing or arming the regime, in a bid to enter the reconstruction market.
Reconstruction will take about a decade to achieve, a process through which so-called “friendly companies” will reap tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars.
The figures announced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) are the latest and the most serious estimates of the level of reconstruction needed.
The data appears even more ominous when we learn Abdullah Dardari is the senior researcher and head of this commission, and that he visited Syria two months ago, meeting with the government to propose the idea of reconstruction.
Dardari also recently organized a meeting in Beirut in which he gathered the “inside opposition”, which is playing on the chords of the regime, with Syrian, Arab and other international economists to introduce the ESCWA data and reconstruction report.
This report says that the damage to the Syrian economy as a result of the war is about $60 billion, and that some $22 billion dollars is needed for housing reconstruction, $6 billion for infrastructure and the importation of labor.
Because ESCWA is concerned about Syria, the report covers everything, and it noted that the required amount can be provided through borrowing from the international funds. Borrowing usually imposes strict conditions that devastate economies of the developing counties.
As an example, let us look at some figures to discover who will come to rebuild Syria’s former glory and provide its people with security, prosperity and a dignified existence.
The ESCWA figures say that 78% of Syrians have fallen under the upper poverty line, 19% below the food poverty line, and that the unemployment rate will reach 44.5% if the conflict ended in 2013.
Public debt has increased from 26% to 65%. The industrial sector has lost 236 billion Syrian Pounds, while its contribution to local production has decreased to less than 5%.
Some 100 billion Syrian Pounds has been lost in trade. Government services, meanwhile, have lost 155 billion Syrian Pounds. As for the oil sector, the ousted MP Qadri Jamil said that its contribution and revenues decreased to zero, as Syria’s oil production had declined 95% and its production of gas dropped to 50%.
All the above mentioned are general losses, but don’t even mention some of the most important losses, which neither reconstruction companies nor anyone else could compensate: The loss of those killed, sick and disabled.
These losses will create a structural imbalance in the composition of the population at different levels, and will establish an unbalanced generation at the levels of health, psychology and education.
The figures say that the losses to the construction sector have reached 526 billion Syrian Pounds. The housing sector is one of the most affected in the Syrian economy, due to the violent battles taking place, mostly inside residential areas. The number of destroyed houses in Syria has so far reached 1.5 million with 315,000 completely destroyed, 300,000 damaged, and the rest damaged as a result of the destruction of infrastructure, like water, electricity and sanitation services.
The number of people affected by this destruction has reached between six and seven million Syrians, three million of whom are displaced and one million of whom have lost their homes.
In a nutshell, these are very important problems but rarely are they discussed or documented by the opposition in a way that looks at how to preserve the rights of Syrians so that they do not pay the price twice. For example, we need to look at who the companies are that will come to Syria later in terms of their nationalities, their earnings ratios and their contracts.
Will Syria borrow from donors to reconstruct what the war machine destroyed, so it sinks under heavy debt and interest, to return to a system of guardianship, if not direct or indirect occupation?
Perhaps most important thing is the re-registration of Syrian properties after documentation and deeds were burned and strangers occupied homes in some Syrian cities to alter demographics.
I believe whoever is victorious will impose his conditions on the table of the political solution and will bring his partners in to reconstruct Syria, rent the country and return Syria to slavery.
It is obvious that Turkey is looking forward to entering the Syrian market, as are all the major powers, from Russia and Iran to the U.S. and including China. Many countries and corporations’ mouths are watering for a piece of the Syrian cake.
Perhaps the entry of Russia into the Syrian oil sector – as we noted in the previous issue – portends an imminent danger that we must be aware of. The people who demonstrated for freedom, dignity and equal distribution of income and wealth will not accept to rent their country to the companies which supported the regime while killing them.
This leads us to predict that the reconstruction issue will lead to another war, but using different weapons.