Pro-Syrian government Jordanian political writer Saud Qubailat has revealed details of a meeting between he and President Bashar Assad in May, claiming Assad refused a $21 billion loan offer from the World Bank.
Lebanese pro-Assad daily al-Akhbar quoted Qubailat as saying the multi-billion dollar soft loan was designed to fund rebuilding projects, adding that the offer was made recently via U.N. ESCWA director and former Deputy Prime Minister for Economy and Trade, Abdullah Dardari.
The Jordanian writer also reported that Syria has given permission to a Russian company for oil extraction from the Syrian coast.
The writer noted that the sound of heavy shelling was present throughout the meeting at the presidential palace in Damascus, al-Akhbar reported.
Qubailat said that western countries, despite what is said publicly, are now racing to make Assad offers to guarantee their companies' share in rebuilding investments, along with oil and gas extraction rights from the enormous reserves off the Syrian coast.
Furthermore, he said the World Bank itself – which never acts without permission from the U.S. – has offered Assad a generous offer of a $21 billion soft loan, as proof of theor desire to fund rebuilding projects.
Dardari, the so-called "godfather of privatization" in Syria reportedly coordinated the offer but Assad refused it, making all final decisions on all rebuilding offers.
The Lebanese newspaper added that what concerns Assad now, according to Qubailat, is how to deal with the post-war reconstruction stage, particularly how to deal with the widespread destruction of the country, medical needs of the people along with how to deal with their losses, either through death, homelessness or financial loss.
But, he said, Assad's most pressing concern is how to counter the spread of sectarianism in Syria and other Arab countries, that he believes risks the very existence of the nation.
"We should work seriously to face it and eradicate it," Assad reportedly said.