By Saeed Ghaffari

Russia’s view on Syria’s reconstruction 

February 20, 2019

BEIRUT - On the way to reconstruction, Syria needs connection to the world financial market to increase Bashar al-Assad’s governance over the country and to earn the $400 billion for rebuilding the state. 

If Moscow succeeds in attracting European partners in reconstruction projects of Syria, the Kremlin will have the chance to compensate its foreign currency deficit through foreign investment.

Although so far Russia has failed to attract Europeans and Saudis investment in Syria, it counts on China to get involved. 

Chinese officials believe al-Assad prevents the spread of radical Islamists, a belief that has perhaps encouraged the Chinese government to pledge $2 billion to invest in Syrian industry. But at the same time, the U.S. retreat from Syria and their quest for a balance of power in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Region have made China reluctant to invest further in Damascus.

Saudi Arabia will, too, be willing to invest in Syria only if Riyadh is certain al-Assad won’t prefer Iran over Saudi Arabia and Riyadh can limit Iran’s dominance in Damascus. 

According to reports, Russia’s priority is allocation of funds in reconstruction of Syria and Russian businessmen will be focusing more on energy sector and construction of Damascus. 

In January 2018, in a bilateral agreement, Russia nearly monopolized the right to withdraw Syrian gas and oil resources. Then, in October of the same year, Moscow in a joint venture, agreed to raise the quality of Syrian oil production facilities.   

Russian private firms have taken important steps in investing in Syrian private sectors and have inked various contracts including energy production in Homs, construction of a railway from Damascus to the city center, and establishment of factories essential in the future of Damascus.  

Russia may be concerned over Iran’s rivalry in Syria, but their biggest fear is China. In fact, it will be the Chinses companies limiting Russian’s economic activity in the reconstruction of Syria. 

Russia’s limited funds will prevent the country from investing further in Syria. The joint financial channel between China and Russia may provide sufficient funds for Syria, but Russian authorities will be apprehensive about the Chinese rivalries.  

There are two questions over Syria’s reconstruction. First, how is Iran going to participate with Russia in rebuilding Damascus? And how will Russians view us in the joint venture? 

Second, in all reality, what is Iran’s main capacity in reconstruction of Damascus? Does Iran have a proper long-term plan and a road map in Syria that will entail Iran’s interest as well? 

Finally, for the past two years, Russians have proven to “target Syria”, i.e. they are prepared to face different conditions. 

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