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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

China Will Help Reconstruct Syria

The Daily Escape:

Cougar in a tree – photo by Melissa Stevens for Nat Geo

The Asia Times reports that China has told Syria that it is ready to play a major role in helping to rebuild after the war:

The world’s second biggest economy has already pledged US$2 billion for reconstruction work at the aptly-named First Trade Fair on Syrian Reconstruction Projects in Beijing.

The Asia Times quotes Dr. Gideon Elazar, a post-doctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University: (link in the quote added by Wrongo)

One factor motivating the country’s involvement is the One Belt-One Road Initiative – a planned attempt to establish and control a modern day Silk Road connecting China, the Middle East and Europe. This might mark a shift in the geo-strategic reality of the region…

Beijing sees a huge opportunity on the horizon now that Syria is edging towards peace after its brutal war. More than 30 Chinese companies are reported to have visited Syria this year. The main topic of discussions with provincial governors was infrastructure projects.

Syria’s ambassador to China, Imad Mustafa, explained that Beijing’s projected role was a direct result of its aid to Assad’s regime:

China, Russia and Iran have provided substantial support to Syria during the military conflict…Therefore, it is these three countries that should play a major role in the reconstruction of Syria.

The ultimate costs of reconstruction are staggering. After seven years of war, Syria’s economy lies in tatters with about US$226 billion in cumulative losses from 2011 until 2016. Data from the World Bank in July showed that amount was about four times Syria’s GDP in 2010.

Dr. Elazar pointed to an important strategic consideration:

It is likely that China is hoping to turn Syria into an important terminus of its economic web, perhaps centered around the Mediterranean ports of Latakia and Tartus.

Remember that Latakia and Tartus have hosted huge Russian facilities for years, and have been greatly reinforced militarily since Russia’s involvement in the Syrian War.

So where are the US and Western Europe in all of this?  The Diplomat reports that we are outside looking in:

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the international community should attach importance to and actively support the reconstruction of Syria…

This is code, since the US and Western Europe have said that their help would only begin when Syria made a political transition away from Bashir al-Assad towards the so-called opposition (paid for by the Saudis). Since Assad is supported by Russia, China and Iran, we are once again out of step with the reality on the ground.

So, let’s review: The US and its Middle East allies provoked a civil war in Syria to take down Assad (who is no doubt, a very bad guy). To do so, we decided to ally with al-Qaeda (Remember? The guys responsible for 9/11?). In the subsequent dust up, the US’s “moderate” allies got beaten militarily. It was an unambiguous defeat by the alliance of Assad, Russia and Iran. The US-backed Syrian Kurds now seem likely to move away from us and make a deal with Assad to keep some form of Kurdish self-government within Syria.

And now the Chinese, the Russians and Iranians will profit from the rebuilding, helping Syria regain its strategic location as a key hub for trans-Asian trade. And Syria will be firmly within the Iranian/Russian/Chinese orbit.

So a few questions: Who in America takes responsibility for enabling this war and then losing it? And while losing it, greatly strengthening our rivals? Will we fire anyone?

And why is our supposedly free press not asking these obvious questions?

Let Wrongo answer for you: For the past month, the administration and the foreign policy establishment have been making the rounds saying that the US and the Coalition were responsible for defeating ISIS, that Russia and Iran (along with the Syrians) had little to do with the outcome.

The spin is that there was no defeat – it was a victory, so thankfully, no one is responsible for “losing”!

Let’s get in a better mood for Christmas and the holiday season. Here is the ever-reliable Mormon Tabernacle performing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” from December, 2012:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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  • Terence McKenna says:

    I am not worried about China gaining a toehold in Syria. Sure, China wants to gain influence, but it is not clear to me that it will impact the primary Chinese/US relationship which is where one ships goods to our west coast and the other ships cash. I feel the same about the transpacific partnership, where will our suppliers go? not to china.

    We cannot expect to be the bride at every wedding or corpse at every funeral. That does not mean that I think would should forego participating in world affairs, but not all failures end up impacting us.

    December 21, 2017 at 8:44 am
    • wrongologist says:

      @ Terry: Agree with your points, but we also need to look at the context of our failed ME strategy that was created by the actions of several presidents. Bush II, Obama and now Trump have worked to undermine our influence with most countries in the region. In different ways, each failed to understand the consequences of their actions, and the result is that we have ceded both relationships, and the moral high ground to states that can be bad actors. Had we stayed on the sidelines after Bush I got out of Iraq, we would not be, to use your analogy, the corpse at every wedding in the region.

      December 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm
      • wrongologist says:

        er…corpse at a funeral. Corpse at a wedding? Simply gross.

        December 22, 2017 at 10:24 am
  • Terence McKenna says:

    Did not see this till now. How about Turd in the punch bowl. That is, by the way, how I see Donald Trump.

    December 25, 2017 at 9:15 am

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