Syria opposition seeks $60b for reconstruction
The Syrian opposition will need $60 billion in Marshall Plan-style aid to prevent the country’s collapse within six months of a fall of the regime, prominent leader George Sabra said on Wednesday.
He urged a ‘Partnership to Invest in Future Syria’ meeting held in Dubai to immediately launch a Marshall Plan for the Arab country, along the lines of the huge post-World War II recovery programme for Europe.
Over the “first six months we need 60 billion dollars” as immediate funding for reconstruction, Sabra said on the sidelines of the meeting. Sabra said the money must come in the form of aid from “our Arab brothers and the international community on whom we count to fulfill their responsibilities towards the humanitarian crisis our country is facing”.
Funding is needed to “resolve the most sensitive and outstanding issues”, starting with “securing housing for people after 2.5 million homes have been destroyed” in the conflict, said Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council.
“What can be described as an economic ‘Marshall Plan for Syria’ cannot be delayed until the current regime fully collapses. It must be initiated immediately,” he told the meeting.
He called for the “Arab and international business community’s support” of “fully or almost completely” liberated zones in Syria’s northern cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Tal Abyad.
“The regime is in the stage of decline and will not last long,” he said.
Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has stressed the UAE’s commitment to support the Syrian people in their current crisis.
He added that the UAE has been taking part effectively in the Syrian Friends meetings, which resulted in setting up of the Task Group entrusted with reconstruction and rebuilding of Syria’s future economy.
“We are all aware that Future Syria should be built on solid economic ground within framework of transparency, power of law and the latest economic practices. After decades of suffering of the Syrian people, a new generation open to the world should be rehabilitated to motivate creativity and innovation seen among Syrians abroad,” he added.
Gargash underlined that the UAE would not spare any effort to support the Syrian people, noting that the conference was a springboard for coordination of communication between the Syrian private sectors at home and abroad to unify their efforts and exchange views on shape of economy of future Syria.
Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said the convening of this conference comes within a realistic approach on how best to advance Syria’s economy.
He reiterated the UAE’s commitment to employ its various experiences, exchange expertise and attract foreign investments.
Al Mansouri announced that a group of Emirati companies had expressed their willingness to invest in future Syria, among others, Taqa, Mubadala, DPW, Masdar and Etisalat.
The participants discussed how the Syrian economy could benefit from the UAE’s experience in development of infrastructure.
The meeting, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was the second of its kind, co-chaired by the United Arab Emirates and Germany, in the Gulf country this year.
Over 500 regional and international delegates were meeting in a series of sessions to study strategies for private-sector engagement in helping to rebuild the war-torn country.
German representative Volkmar Wenzel said: “We must start with relief and go through many phases before reaching to foreign investment” in Syria, where an anti-regime revolt since March 2011 has cost tens of thousands of lives.
Sabra’s SNC is a main component of the National Coalition formed in Doha on November 11 that has so far gained recognition from Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, the EU and six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
“We hope the American stance moves forward towards supporting the Syrian revolt and recognising the National Coalition as France and Britain did,” said Sabra.
The coalition has been openly rejected by some Islamist groups in the northern city and province of Aleppo, a frontline in the war between rebels and the regime, including Al Nusra Front, who dubbed it a “conspiratorial project”.
But Sabra dismissed these groups as “minorities ... representing their own opinions and views. And this is their right”.
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