Just as the war in Syria nears its end, the time for reconstruction draws near. Russia and Iran are currently the top two investors in the country. Are there rooms for more?
Nearly a decade of full-blown civil war, the majority of which was spent on fighting marauders and barbarians such as ISIS who laid waste to everything they came across, has left Syria with a lot to be desired. Fortunately, Syria allies like Russia and Iran have both stepped forth to help with the reconstruction effort, though given the damage that’s already been done, it takes a lot more investors than these two to make Syria like the old one again.
Of all the investors coming to Syria, none will perhaps have the influence the Russians managed to secure for themselves. Given how the tides of war changed, some would say that it is deservedly enough. According to the reports, between the years 2013 to 2020, the Russian Federation managed to secure at least five oil drilling contracts for itself. Considering the fact that Russia alone is one of the biggest petrol suppliers in the world, their access to Syrian oil reserves would consolidate their grip on the energy sector for the time being. Aside from the oil reserves, Syria is blessed with having rich deposits of phosphate and Russians have managed to snatch 70 percent of its revenue for the next 50 years.
Aside from Russia, Iran is also viewed as another potential investor in this game. So far, Iran has been the fiercest supporter of the Syrian government during this destructive civil war. True, the Russians intervention in 2015 was the pivotal moment of this conflict, but had it not been for the Iranians’ persuasion Russia might have never intervened in Syria. Back in 2012, the Syrian government was on the verge of collapse and ISIS on the verge of victory. Fortunately, thanks to the timely response of the Iranians, the Syrian government managed to survive long enough for the Russians to come. Even so, the nature of the Iranians coming to help was vastly different from the Russian’s agenda and so are their post-war objectives. For the Iranians the war in Syria has always been about protecting themselves and the Middle-East from ISIS, therefore no ulterior motives beyond the geopolitical concerns existed. Having said that, even Iran is willing to let go of opportunities should they present themselves.
Thanks to the long years of presence within the borders and the constant humanitarian aid flowing from Iran to Syria, the economic ties between the two have been strengthened. Pharmaceutical products of Iran were used to treat countless wounded civilians and soldiers during the course of these past years, creating a market for Iran in Syria. In addition to that, there have been reports that as part of the effort to revitalize Syria, Iranian companies have invested in several cultural and entertainment complexes, hoping to kill two birds with one stone: Attracting potential buyers and strengthening of the relations with the rest of the world through Syrian channels. In spite of all that effort, Iran’s potential economic prospects within Syria are still miniscule compared to what Russia has been doing these past years.
So far, the Western investors have largely ignored the opportunity presented due to their prejudice and Arab countries have burned all the bridges behind them. In their absence, China is often being looked at as a potential investor in the coming years. Even so, experts do argue that China’s reluctance to involve itself in the Middle-East and to encroach on Russians grounds could deter the country from tapping into the economic potential of Syria to the fullest. As of this moment, estimates put the necessary funding required for Syria somewhere between 200-300 billion dollars and that is only without taking into account the inflation. Aside from that, time is yet another obstacle with many skeptics having argued in its favour, some claiming that the reconstruction of a country like Syria takes decades if not a century and that alone complicates things for those willing to risk their investment. At any rate, Syria has taken the first steps toward a long journey and fortunately it is not alone in this undertaking. Perhaps one day the Syrians will look back and wonder what transpired but today is not that day. Today is for recovery.