Syria and the New Silk Road

Ulf Sandmark to the Syria Times:

 Syria’s geographical position connects the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa in the World Land-Bridge.

Ulf Sandmark, economist and Stockholm correspondent for executive intelligence review, a member of the visiting delegation, presented a document for Syrian reconstruction projects, including a number of key tracks setting out the country’s main priorities. He expressed his desire to find local partners to assist in setting up proposed projects.Ulf Sandmark told Syria Times that  the Defending Syria Body Founded in Sweden in 2012,  provides humanitarian and financial assistance to Syria, while helping Syrian expatriates and businessmen engage in supporting the Syrian people and contributing to the reconstruction process.

 On December 17, the Syrian city of Aleppo was finally liberated from the barbaric forces of Obama’s Anglo-Saudi takfiri terrorists. After almost five years of their occupation of the eastern part of the city and the north of the province, this second largest city in Syria and a thriving economic and cultural center of the nation has been reduced to little more than a heap of rubble.

In the 2004 census, the population of the whole Province of Aleppo was 4.4 million, half of which, 2.1 million, lived in the city of Aleppo. The private sector dominates the city's economy, reflecting the population's high degree of entrepreneurship, with the majority working in small and medium industries and commerce. Sixty percent of the workforce was employed in productive enterprises, of which 25 percent worked in manufacturing. Aleppo was the manufacturing powerhouse of Syria, the home to 30-40 percent of national manufacturing. The city's export share was around 35 percent of Syria's total non-oil exports. Moreover, Aleppo dominated both textiles and pharmaceutical industries in the country. The city had a substantial presence in all four subsectors of manufacturing: textiles, chemical, engineering and food-processing sectors. He added.

Modern Industrial Ambitions

The Sheikh Najjar industrial city is located 10 km to the north east of Aleppo’s city boundaries. Its construction was started in the year 2000. The city, with its area of 4,412 hectares, included industry, housing, infrastructure, green areas, commercial services, and administrative areas. In 2009, 413 industrial firms were already operating in the city and an additional 1,129 were under construction. Its industrial area, which had been provided with world standard infrastructure facilities, was divided into three zones: light industry, medium sized industries, and heavy industries.

Fighting inside the industrial city between the terrorists and government forces has turned the Sheikh Najjar industrial city to little more than a ghost town. The Sheikh Najjar Industrial City was a very good example of the intentions of the Syrian government to pursue a process of industrialization. This process must be revived under the reconstruction process.

The Sheikh Najjar Industrial city outside of Aleppo, before and after the war. Much of Aleppo has been reduced to rubble over the course of the five years of fighting.

Project Phoenix

Aleppo is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It has existed for more than 10,000 years. Since ancient times, Aleppo has been a hub of world trade between East and West, and its perfect position between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia made it a major trade center. Throughout its long history, Aleppo has witnessed many moments of greatness and decline, survived massive turmoil, earthquakes both physical and social, and arose again like the bird of the Phoenix. The people and government of Syria have kept the same spirit alive in the face of the worst crisis in the history of the country.

In November 2015, a delegation of the Schiller Institute and the Syrian-Swedish Committee for Democracy traveled to Damascus (including the co-author of this article, Ulf Sandmark) to bring humanitarian aid to the war-torn country, but more importantly, to present to the highest levels of the Syrian government the Schiller Institute’s Project Phoenix for the Reconstruction of Syria.

Syria’s geographical position connects the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa in the World Land-Bridge.

Project Phoenix consisted of three major sections: 1. How to mobilize the physical, intellectual and moral potential of the nation for reconstruction; 2. How to finance reconstruction; and 3. How Syria can benefit from connecting to China’s New Silk Road project.

Certain developments in the past two years prove the Schiller Institute’s intervention to be timely and correct. The intervention of the BRICS nations to change the decaying and destructive world order in 2014 was a major incentive for the Syrian people to follow this new paradigm. However, the direct military intervention by Russia in September 2015 in support of the Syrian Army and people in fighting the terrorists and forces of the dark ages, has set the stage for a completely new political and strategic geometry in that country and the whole region.

Added to the Russian military intervention, on the economic side, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s brought the concept of the New Silk Road to southwest Asia and the Arab world in January 2016 in his visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Chinese and Russian government officials visited Syria and offered to help in the reconstruction process. The Syrian Investment Agency (SIA) announced in April 2016 that it was intending to organize, soon, a reconstruction conference together with the BRICS nations.

In the meantime, in February 2016, Executive Intelligence Review produced an Arabic version of the special report “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” with an added feature on Project Phoenix. In this Arabic version, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, argued that connecting the Middle East to the New Silk Road project would be a key element of establishing peace and development in this region.

Financing reconstruction in a nation ruined by war?

A Hamiltonian national credit system can kick off the reconstruction process, in spite of the fact that most of the country’s previous physical economy and financial capacities are devastated to a large extent. Examples like the newly founded United States in the late 18th century, or Germany after WWII can serve as good examples of how a nation can mobilize to rebuild itself after a destructive war.

The starting point for a credit system is a vision of reconstruction. This should include a centralized development plan, declaring step by step what the nation intends to accomplish at defined future dates. With this plan as the foundation, the government can issue the necessary credit to put the available workforce, tools, and materials to work. The projects can be run by either private entrepreneurs or government authorities.

Physical-economic development

Reconstruction can be oriented to creating an infrastructure platform with the highest possible level of technology and productivity. A major upgrade of the chemical industry, based on oil and gas resources, can promote new industries producing fertilizers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and other high-tech products. In line with the BRICS paradigm, the nuclear industry that was destroyed by Israel and by sanctions can be resurrected both for power production and water desalination.

The New Silk Road strategy involves not only transportation alone, but international development corridors which will bring long-term vitality and growth to the ancient crossroads of Syria. Besides railways, they include pipelines, water projects, industrial zones, agriculture, and city-building.

Syria and the New Silk Road

Syria enjoys a perfect position between three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa, and also between major water bodies. Thus, it can connect to both the Eurasian-African Land-Bridge and Economic Belt of the New Silk Road, and to the Maritime Silk Road.

The World Land-Bridge, conceived by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche, connecting the continents with development corridors centered on high-speed rail, and creating the basis for mutually beneficial development between all nations.

 

1. The West/East land route to Baghdad, Teheran and Asia.

The New Silk Road Economic Belt extends from China to Central Asia and Iran, and further to Turkey and Europe. The Iranian transportation plans extend eastward to Iraq, Baghdad, and further along both Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Syria. The branch on the Euphrates River can also be connected to the Maritime Silk Road through the Persian Gulf and the port of Basra in southern Iraq and north-west towards DeirEzzor, Raqqa and Aleppo. The old Silk Road along the Euphrates River from Basra on the Persian Gulf will reach into Syria, and with a railway connect to Europe through Turkey. Such a Euphrates railway, built in cooperation with Iraq, will be a big step toward regional integration and a development corridor extending from the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean and all of Europe.

Another step to open up the old East-West Silk Road routes will be to build a 200-km railway from DeirEzzor southwest to Palmyra, the legendary Silk Road city. This missing link will allow railway service from Tehran and Baghdad through these Syrian cities and onward, in the same direction, to Damascus and Beirut on the Mediterranean.

The Liberation of Aleppo should be regarded as a turning point, not only in the history of Syria, but of the region and the world, directing the world towards peace and development.

 

HaifaaMafalani

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