While the West’s Gulf allies back ISIS, Syria’s chief ally in the fight against ISIS will probably end up paying much of the cost of reconstruction.
On the 29th of November, an article published on the Guardian reported that several European diplomats had told Vladimir Putin that they will not financially contribute to Syria’s reconstruction. They believe that Russia should fund the rebuilding projects that will inevitably begin once the conflict reaches its conclusion.
According to the source, a European diplomat specifically said “What Russia breaks is what Moscow will have to fix,” referring to Russia’s military involvement in Syria. An estimate by the World Bank earlier this year estimates that the total cost of rebuilding Syria will be around $180 billion.
Although the Russian Air Force (RUAF) is doing some damage to Syria’s infrastructure, as a result of its military operations against Islamist militants, their involvement is protecting many Syrians from the clutches of Islamist fighters. Since Russia intervened in September 2015, the tide has drastically shifted in the favour of pro-government forces, who are secular in nature.
Furthermore, Russia’s assistance allowed the Syrian Army to retake and save the ancient city of Palmyra from Daesh. Palmyra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, and much of the archaeological ruins remain intact.
Russia has also provided Syria with humanitarian aid and support. Thousands of Syrians living in the besieged city of Deir-Ezzour rely solely on the Russian Air Force to provide them with aid and basic supplies.
Yesterday, Putin ordered the deployment of mobile hospital units to Aleppo to treat and care for civilians. Medical personnel have already arrived in Syria, and according to Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesmen, the facility will be functioning “very soon.” These facilities have the capacity to treat hundreds of patients per day.
Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have financially supported Islamist militants for several years. Turkey has done very little to prevent the entry of foreign fighters into Syria, and they have also played a key role in funding several Islamist groups. In the first 2 years of the conflict, Qatar provided the Syrian armed opposition with around $3 billion worth of armaments.
This colossal spending spree was an attempt by Qatar to gain influence in Syria. Ultimately, the careless funding of armed groups in Syria has given rise to several jihadi groups, including Daesh. This has fuelled the conflict and caused widespread damage to Syria’s infrastructure, while also putting the West at risk of terror attacks.
Foreign states recently provided the armed opposition with Grad rockets. Grad rockets are used as part of the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher. It is not an accurate armament, and it can fire several explosive projectiles in a short space of time, causing significant destruction.
Perhaps more significantly, several Gulf Nations are also responsible for inciting sectarian tension between Syrians. Completely settling these tensions will take much longer than rebuilding Syria.
States that have unconditionally, and recklessly backed the armed opposition should fund Syria’s reconstruction. However, it is likely that they will be willing to do so if the current government remains in power.
This leaves Russia, and Syria’s other allies to take the lead in returning the country to its former glory. Syria and Russia have already signed-off on some deals that will bolster trade between both nations.