Russia Expects World Powers To Pay the Bill For Syria Reconstruction

Russia asks world powers to pay for Syria reconstruction

Financial Times

 

Funds from EU and Gulf states reliant on peace settlement

Regime air strikes target the southern Syrian city of Daraa © AFP

Russia is pressing world powers to provide Syria with billions of dollars for reconstruction to bolster its faltering efforts to resolve the Arab state’s six-year conflict.

But European and Gulf states, angered by Russia’s military intervention that tilted the war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad, will only contribute if Moscow secures a peace settlement that sets the terms for an eventual political transition, western diplomats say.

“They [Russia] go in, they mess it all up, they break everything and want everyone to pay for it,” said a European diplomat.

The issue is expected to be raised at UN-backed talks between the Syrian government and rebels that begin in Geneva on Thursday. Russia is the dominant foreign player involved in the war, but after helping broker a ceasefire between the warring parties in December, it has struggled to bring the adversaries closer to a political agreement.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister in charge of Middle East issues, told a meeting of EU ambassadors in Moscow last week that the reconstruction of Syria would top the agenda very soon, according to European diplomats. He said “tens of billions of dollars” would be needed, while warning that “nothing” should be expected from Russia, the diplomats said.

Buildings lie destroyed in Aleppo’s Bustan al-Basha neighbourhood last November © AFP

“The Russians really do not want to inherit a completely destroyed Syria — that’s a problem that would stick with them as long as Iraq has been haunting the Americans,” said a Middle East-based diplomat.

But the Russian initiative could face resistance — particularly as Russian air strikes were responsible for destruction in cities such as Aleppo. The conflict has reduced entire neighbourhoods across the country to rubble and forced millions of people from their homes.

EU member states have differed on whether to insist on Mr Assad’s departure as an explicit condition for a settlement or back a transitional arrangement. Countries including the UK, France and the Netherlands believe the war will not end until he goes, but others argue that should not stop efforts to ease the violence.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, plans to host an international conference on Syria’s future in April.

“Mogherini would like to use that to put the EU in the forefront of shaping the debate on reconstruction. The UK and France are very cautious about rushing into something that isn’t going to hold and inadvertently propping up Assad,” said another European diplomat.

The Geneva negotiations follow negotiations in Kazakhstan mediated by Russia and Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition.

Russia used those talks to table a draft of a new Syrian constitution, despite the fact that work on a charter was originally part of the agenda for the Geneva process. The second round of talks in Astana wrapped up without visible progress last week and Moscow is expected to raise its draft charter in Geneva.

Details of Russia’s draft constitution have not been made public, but a crucial issue is how long Mr Assad would be able to cling to power. Rebels and diplomats say the draft peddled by Russia would involve a devolution of powers, with portfolios, such as the interior, defence and foreign ministries, gaining extra power.

Some opposition figures are slowly warming to the idea, which would essentially put in place an Iraq or Lebanon-style power-sharing system.

“It is far from ideal and not something we had aspired to, but I think it is better than war,” one opposition figure said.

Syrian civil defence volunteers search for survivors following a reported government airstrike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Tishrin, on the northeastern outskirts of the capital Damascus © AFP

However, others argued it is a charade the opposition should steer clear of.

“It doesn’t matter much if you have a new and powerful post but you don’t have the intelligence forces or military behind you,” said an opposition figure.

Russian Middle East experts blame the Syrian government and Iran, another backer of Mr Assad, for being the biggest obstacles to a political settlement.

The Kremlin believes that neither that problem nor convincing European powers to support a Russian-brokered political deal can be solved without clarity over US policy in Syria. The Obama administration, which was criticised by Syria’s opposition for not doing more to end the violence, was increasingly marginalised as Russia’s influence grew.

US President Donald Trump has suggested his priority in Syria will be fighting Isis and not pushing for Mr Assad to step down. But his administration has increased the pressure on Iran, the main regional backer of the Syrian regime.

“The Trump administration’s hard line on Iran could be very useful in getting Iran to make concessions,” said a former Russian diplomat. “But for that we need a clear message from Washington.”

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2 thoughts on “Russia Expects World Powers To Pay the Bill For Syria Reconstruction

  1. “They [Russia] go in, they mess it all up, they break everything and want everyone to pay for it,” said a European diplomat.

    Regime change in Syria, Iraq, Libya ending up with changing the government in Iran, was part of the Bush Neocons who came out with a plan in 2001, just after 9/11 to make regime change of other governments as American as apple pie.

    Once NATO replaced the Gadaffi regime in Libya with an Islamic terrorist failed State, Democrat Obama’s CIA started running Libya’s weapons to their mercenary terrorist boots on the ground in Syria for the next phase on the 2001 Republican Bush plan.

    The Russians entered the war only in 2015, after the US, Saudi Arabia and their European allies already messed it up and broke everything from 2011-2015.

    Here’s the proof US General Wesley Clark blew the whistle on in 2007, FOUR YEARS before Obama carried out the 2001 Bush plans. The US deep State remains the deep state with both Republican and Democratic fronts.

    Going even deeper, this is the deep state operating in this world;

    And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.(false beliefs about God in Judaism, Christianity & Islam. written some 500 years before Islam, the 3rd arm from the Jewish religious record appeared)

    For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth (the 1%, Presidents, Prime Ministers, CEOs, and other Idols of the People) and of the whole world, (the rest of Humanity) to gather them to the battle of that Great Day of God Almighty. (the war is already underway between Judaism, Christianity and Islam leading to the climax of that Great Day)
    Behold, I come as a thief. (when you least expect it)
    Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
    And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
    Revelation 16:13-16

    Armageddon was derived from Har Megiddo, located in Judea and Samaria of occupied Palestine 2000 years ago. Israel as a kingdom disappeared some 800 years before Jesus walked in that area during the occupation.

    Har Megiddo/Armageddon still exists as a physical place in this material world, but is now under the control of temporal Israel re-created from the Bible after an absence of some 2800 years. After all those years, the occupation of Judea and Samaria in Palestine is still an unresolved, violent, open wound in the Middle East and this material world.

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