Our final topic, picked by you, dear listeners, earlier in a poll on our Facebook page, is "Syria: Spheres Of Reconstruction", focusing on the geopolitically competitive efforts to rebuild the war-torn Arab Republic:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dropped a bombshell when he revealed that the UN was dissuading countries from reconstructing Syria, which coincided with the Saudis partially replacing some of America's pulled funding for this initiative in the country's northeast. Moscow's top diplomat claimed that the UN Secretariat issued a secret directive prohibiting anything beyond humanitarian aid to the government-controlled areas of Syria, which would align with the US' position of refusing to do the same until it sees progress on a so-called "political transition" that it envisions as paving the way for President Assad's removal from office. The UN denied the existence of this order but that didn't stop Russia from accusing the US and the UK of going along with this shadowy scheme and therefore impeding the return of refugees to Syria.
Washington said on many occasions that it will only provide aid to the opposition-held quarters of the country, which of course includes the agriculturally, hydrologically, and energy-rich northeastern Kurdish-controlled corner that it's dispatched approximately 2,000 troops to occupy, though Trump is changing that policy by cutting $230 million to Syria after the State Department said that members of the international coalition contributed $300 million to this effort. That includes Saudi Arabia chipping in a whopping $100 million, which accordingly makes the Kingdom a major stakeholder in the future of this region and further complicates the already delicate geopolitical situation there as the Kurds try to negotiate some level of legally enshrined autonomy during the ongoing UN-mandated constitutional reform process. While it might be "politically incorrect" to say, it looks like Syria is being divided into spheres of influence.
The US and its allies' refusal to assist in all of Syria's reconstruction, possibly encouraged by the reported existence of the secretive UN directive, and only concentrate their efforts on the strategic northeastern part of the country that's under their and their proxies' control amounts to the weaponization of economic aid. This is hypocritical for more than just the general principle involved because it shows that these countries really don't want a genuine solution to the refugee crisis that's affected so many of them and was one of the triggers for Brexit. Instead of coming together to resolve the worst crisis of contemporary times, these states are drawing proverbial lines in the sand and trying to lay out their claim for a piece of the post-conflict Syrian pie.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Ali Syed, political researcher/analyst based in Belgium and Nedka Babliku, contributing editor at Eurasia Future.
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