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Comment and Opinion

INSS: Israel’s Dilemma over Syrian Reconstruction, by Anat Ben Haim and Udi Dekel

In 2018, the Assad regime essentially completed its victory in Syria and shifted its focus from fighting to efforts to rebuild the country. International institutions estimate the damage in Syria during the war years at about $350-400 billion, which includes severe physical damage to infrastructures, economic collapse, and loss of revenues. The physical damage can be repaired with outside help, even if the process takes many years. But much more time – dozens of years at least – will elapse before other elements of the damage can be repaired: the loss of future productivity and product, the exodus of the middle and upper classes, and the lack of education for the younger generation. Syria also faces significant social challenges: above all, painfully deep inter-community tensions, corruption, nepotism, and the growth of a new economic elite composed of President Assad’s close associates, who operate like a mafia.

Internal Challenges

Today President Assad and the forces supporting him control about 70 percent of Syrian territory, including most of the urban territory and over half the population. In urban cities along the country’s “spine” – Damascus, Homs, and Hama – the level of governance is relatively high. In eastern Syria and Aleppo (which has completely lost its pre-2011 status as an economic hub), the government has had more trouble implementing civil governance, although the regime maintains military control. In the Idlib enclave, the rebels’ last stronghold, the regime has no hold. The Kurdish area east of the Euphrates also has some features of self-governance, but that is at risk following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US forces, especially because Turkey is determined to prevent Kurdish autonomy in the area.

Read the full article at INSS.