How much will it cost for the reconstruction of Syria? A Syrian friend of mine, and a successful architect — led the team that built Disneyland outside Paris — used to tell me whenever I asked him when he is finally retiring to his favorite corner of the world in South of France “The ear of a camel is worth a nickel, and my pocket is empty of nickels”. He is from Homs, the city that has seen unprecedented destruction by Assad.
Voice of America reported today that UN experts have estimated the reconstruction of Syria to cost around $80 Billion after 28 months of fighting. Syria never had more than $16 Billion in foreign reserves even under the most optimistic of circumstances, which begs the question of how and who will foot such humongous aid package to buy a camel’s ear or rather to re-build a country whose root causes and problems are far from getting resolved after this war is over.
When you consider the debt of Greece, around $150 Billion, which stands at about 159% of GDP, in Syria’s case, this level of debt, if available, would produce a 135% debt to GDP ratio. Not impossible by any stretch of the imagination if Syria is able to produce recurring and consistent revenues through a higher GDP.
Maybe the US should consider a new form of international court whose task is to hold undemocratic countries supplying arms to oppressive regimes accountable for any resulting destruction. This may be the answer to the rising violence of state sponsors of terror. It may also be the kind of law to suppress the vicarious obligations some violent nations deem necessary to battle for their interests by victimizing the innocent. Just another arrow in the quiver of democratic nations even though it will be ignored by the targeted countries.
Further, if Norway has the Nobel Peace Prize, why can’t the US have the Violence Prize awarded annually to any country held accountable by the new international court.
Do not bet on these ideas to even see the light of day because it is almost certain some worldly Diplomat will find it inconvenient to hold violent nations accountable. Negotiations is the mean to solve violent ends, not accountability.
The problem remains who and how Syria will pay for its reconstruction after this war is over. Assad with Iranian and Russian help or the Syrians with the Saudi and the Qatari help?
After the fall of Assad, my hope Syria will entrust this difficult task to a savvy Minister of Finance able to persuade the international community and with enough goodwill to attract the combination of capital and aid to lift a new peaceful Syria.
No funds for reconstruction means no more Syria.