New challenges arise as the Syrian war comes to an end

Wednesday, 2018-08-01 17:44:08
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Russia, Turkey, and Iran are to meet in Sochi to discuss a Syrian constitution, the return of refugees, and de-escalation of the civil war. (Photo: Getty)
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NDO – Syria has suffered through seven years of devastating war. As the Syrian troops are making their final attempt to regain control of territories that remain in the hands of militants, Russia and powers are focusing on the return of Syrian refugees and the reconstruction of the Middle East country. However, it is still an extremely precarious journey to the restoration of peace and stability in Syria.

The past few days have seen continuous peace talks between rival groups in Syria, with many opposition groups having agreed to concede and hand over weapons. These advances are attributed to the Syrian government’s victory on the field, with the support of Russia’s air forces. The government forces have achieved significant progress in their military campaigns in the southwestern region, liberating many territories from rebel control. Under Egypt’s mediation, several Syrian opposition groups have signed ceasefires. Accordingly, those in northern and eastern Syria agreed to join anti-terrorist activities and take part in efforts to reach a peaceful political solution to the crisis in the Middle East nation. A delegation of the US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition in Syria also negotiated with Syrian government officials in the aim of finding a political solution.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are emerging as intermediary parties helping to end the seven-year war by rebuilding Syrian politics and sponsoring the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, Russia. The mediators are discussing the establishment of the Syrian Constitutional Commission, in addition to the situation in stress-reduced areas and the humanitarian record, including the reinforcement of confidence measures and the return of refugees. These are the chaotic jobs of the Syrian peace process after the heat of the battlefield has cooled down. President Bashar al-Assad’s administration, with military and political support from Iran and Russia, has recaptured 60% of the territories occupied by terrorist and rebel groups.

At a recent meeting of the UN Security Council on the Syrian situation, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, stressed that revitalising the Syrian economy is a big challenge because the country is suffering from severe shortages of building materials, heavy equipment and fuel. However, French ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, stated that there would be no reconstruction aid to Syria if President Bashar al-Assad did not agree to carry out a political transition, including the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of elections. Although the reconstruction of Syria is seen as a promising investment, Europe seems reluctant to get involved, as the developments on the Syrian politics and battlefields are following Russia’s leadership. The European Union (EU) member states ask for political conditions accompanying humanitarian aid and reconstruction in the Middle East nation. Currently, the EU sanctions against Syria are in effect until June 1, 2019. Russian deputy ambassador Polynashk has called on the countries to stop unilateral sanctions aimed at Syria, saying that the West should not provide conditional aid which requires regime change in an already war-torn country.

As the Syrian war is on the path to resolution, a plan to reconstruct the Middle East nation is being discussed by world powers. As for a war-torn country like Syria, reconstruction could cost between US$200-400 billion and last at least 15 years. During this stage, the countries that play the biggest mediating role in Syria, such as Russia, the United States, Turkey, Iran and the EU powers all want to be part of it. However, in order to obtain a slice of the investment, they need to put immediate focus on the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of Syrian refugees, a problem loaded with many complicated elements.