Repairing Syria : Redeeming Bashar al-Assad
"I remember people were telling us, 'Are you mad? You start planning for rebuilding now?' And my reaction was, 'It is already too late'."
"The economic damage is beyond calculation at the moment. There is no number on Earth that can be put on the loss [of] the historical, archaeological and cultural and also the business aspect of it."
Abdullah Al Dardari, deputy executive secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission, West Asia
"My heart burns every time I come to the market and see the destruction. I cry every day but there is nothing I can do."
"I informed the authorities two weeks ago [of bombs lying inside his destroyed shop] but so far they have not come to remove them."
Abdul-Qadir Homsi, shoe shop owner, Aleppo, Syria
"Any rushed reconstruction is dangerous and is likely to cut out the owners or the ex-residents as well."
AlHakam Shaa, 30, Aleppan refugee, Budapest, Hungary
|In this Jan. 20, 2017 photo, Syrian children remove rubble in the once rebel-held Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood in eastern Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)|
"We are not forgetting there is a war."Aleppo, that ancient city with its historical, cultural, religious and social heritage survived for thousands of years until its president reduced it to bitter rubble, claiming sanctimoniously that he had no other choice, since he was confronted by terrorism, and any government of any nation had the internationally recognized legal right to use all means at their disposal to defend the nation. In Bashar al-Assad's case he was defending his Shiite regime from the national Syrians who deplored his victimization of Sunni Syrians.
"But I can choose to sit under the ruins and ashes or I can choose to climb on top of the mountain and scream as loud as I can: ‘I want to rebuild'."
Luna Rajab, Damascus architect
|A general view shows the Old City of Aleppo as seen from the historic citadel in 2009 Reuters|
Like the tribal tyrant that he and his father before him had been, he chose not to negotiate with the majority of Syrians chafing under a government that discriminated against them in a sectarian and hostile environment. He chose to label Syrian protests as terrorist threats and called out his military to destroy them and their homes, causing half the population to seek haven elsewhere. The international community and the United Nations overlooked their 'responsibility to protect' when a regime victimized its population.
In this Jan. 20, 2017 file photo, a resident walks amid the rubble in the once rebel-held Jalloum neighborhood of eastern Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
Despite that millions of Syrians have been displaced internally, millions more have become refugees, flooding Europe with their desperation to find haven and reconstruct their shattered lives, leaving behind the memory of countless extended family members killed by al-Assad's chemical weapons attacks, his barrel bombs, his artillery fire, his bloody massacres that have taken a half-million Syrian lives over the past six years of civil war. It has been a barbaric sectarian conflict, with Hezbollah, Iran's proxy terror group from Lebanon, and Iran's own al Quds Republican Guard Corps adding to the slaughter.
With no 'peace plan' in the near future to ensure an end to the bloodbath, the government of President Bashar al-Assad awaits the investment aid of developed nations of the world in re-building what he has willfully and with malice aforethought destroyed. Despite that under American, European and Arab sanctions no aid would be forthcoming. Whether Iran, whose economic fortunes were restored with the lifting of sanctions and restoration of billions by the United States with the signing of the infamous nuclear agreement would deign to finance reconstruction is questionable.
Russia, whose economic decline resulting from a low in gas prices and the effect of sanctions reflecting its support for ethnic Russian separatist forces in Ukraine as well as its illegal Crimean theft is unlikely to offer financial support to reconstruct what its own warplanes destroyed in bombing Aleppo as well as other areas of Syria under rebel control. Vladimir Putin's aerial display of non-recognition of hospitals, choosing to deliberately bomb them rather than allow medical staff to tend to the wounded in East Aleppo speaks volumes about Russian responsibility.
Neither Russia nor Iran balked at spending immense sums of treasury to prosecute Assad's war against his citizens, and nor did they think twice about destroying the historical, world-renowned sites of ancient heritage, let alone the homes and shops, the farms and factories, the schools and social centres that reflect a civilized country, but these architects of destruction will most certainly urge Syria to look after its own interests in repairing what has been destroyed beyond repair.
The displaced Syrians have nowhere to return to, when what they fled was the assurance that if they remained they would forfeit their lives as surely as their livelihoods had been forfeited because they practised the wrong sect of a shared religion. Should the Syrian regime be in full control of rebuilding, using international funds to reconstruct what it had destroyed, it would be to the deliberately planned advantage of Syrian Alawites; no Sunni Syrians need apply, unless by chance they agree to return to their disadvantaged, subordinate positions of fore.
The United Nations will step up to the plate. The same world body that is dedicated to world peace, stability and the unity of nations in respecting human rights for all. And which failed spectacularly to engineer a change in regime, and in so failing aided the regime in place in its unwavering intent to destroy what it could not control. According to Mr. Al Dardari representing the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, war damages across Syria rings in at $350-billion, taking into account physical wreckage and loss of economic potential.
|The Old City of Aleppo as it now appears as a casualty of the six-year civil war Reuters|
It would take an estimated $52-billion to reconstruct Aleppo alone and reputedly others bringing in their estimates double that figure. Between west and east Aleppo, it was the east which housed Sunni Syrians that realized the brunt of the destruction. Residents in the west were protected by the regime since they were majority Shiite Syrians. And it was the east of the city that came under government artillery bombardment, airstrikes and barrel bombs released by helicopters hovering overhead. The 1.5 million people who populated eastern Aleppo are elsewhere now, the city deserted in its ruination.
According to UNESCO, the Old Quarters located in east Aleppo is 30 percent destroyed, while 60 percent is merely damaged. The 11th Century Umayyad Mosque and historic bazaar were heavily damaged. The government headed by the bloody tyrant speaks of its intention to restore industries and businesses at an estimated cost of a half-billion dollars. It is unknown where the funding will come from to begin reconstruction on a scale "that is going to bring 12 million displaced people back to their homes", according to a Syrian urban planner.