Opinion and Editorial

After a decade of war, Syria deserves a political solution

Christiane Waked
Filed on March 14, 2021

The reconstruction process could cost Syria as much as $442 billion, as per the estimates of a report published in September 2020 by the United Nations.

March 15, 2021, marks the 10th anniversary of the Syrian conflict. For 10 years now, the war in Syria has been one of the world’s most complex and protracted crises that cost the lives of more than half-a-million people.

The reconstruction process could cost Syria as much as $442 billion, as per the estimates of a report published in September 2020 by the United Nations. A third of the housing stock in Syria has been destroyed or damaged. Almost 83 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. More than two-thirds of Syrians have had to leave their homes: 5.6 million are refugees outside the country and 6.5 million are internally displaced.

Most of the country is completely destroyed and some regions were razed to the ground. While the war is almost over, the conflict continues at a low intensity today in some parts of northern Syria and in Idlib. The sleeping cells of Daesh are also a source of concern as they are being active more and more, killing innocent people.

Today after a decade of war, Syria deserves a political solution that will end all the killings and destruction so that people can return to their homes. The country also needs a permanent solution to revive its economy that has been deeply affected by the conflict.

Syria is facing its worst economic crisis since the beginning of the war in 2011, as the price of the pound against the dollar fell on the black market this month to its lowest levels ever, which led to a decrease in the value of salaries and an increase in the cost of imports.

Food prices have more than doubled over the past year, and the World Food Programme warned this month that 60 per cent of Syrians, or 12.4 million people, are at the risk of starvation.

On the other hand, Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohme told the People’s Assembly last February that $5 billion is the value of the losses incurred by the oil sector in Syria. Indeed, only 80 barrels of oil out of a total of 89 barrels produced per day in 2020, were extracted from areas outside of Damascus’s control, compared to daily production of 400 barrels before the outbreak of the conflict.

Helping Syria get back on its feet would prove beneficial to Syria at all levels, especially the economic one when reconstruction projects will bring in money not only to Syria but to all its neighbours where refugees live. The United Nations estimates that about 5.6 million Syrian refugees live in neighbouring countries. And these host countries have nothing but to gain from a reconstructed Syria.

Syria’s reconstruction could serve as a life line for Lebanon, especially because two million Syrian refugees live there. Lebanon has a central role to play in its ability to offer a platform for companies and labour. It is rather easy for Syrian refugees to return to their country from Lebanon because of the geographical proximity. Lebanon is connected to Syria by roads and also has a maritime route through ports of Tripoli and Beirut.

The longer the Syrian conflict is going to persist, the more impact it will have on Syria’s economy alongside the Caesar Act sanctions.

The international community must now, more than ever, press for a political solution in Syria that will put the country back on track.

Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut.

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