Don’t Fund Syria's Reconstruction

The West Has Little Leverage and Little to Gain

A man walks past damaged buildings in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, August 2017. Bassam Khabieh / Reuters

Now that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully defeated or neutralized much of the insurgency in his country, domestic and international attention has begun to turn toward stabilization and reconstruction. It is now possible to envision a postwar Syria, at least in parts of the country.

Yet large sections of the international community—including, critically, key donor countries—continue to reject the legitimacy of Assad and his regime. The United States and its allies have given up on their proxy war in Syria, with which they had pushed for Assad’s negotiated removal from power. But now reconstruction seems like the next battle to shape Syria’s political order. For backers of the Syrian opposition, reconstruction funds are one of their last remaining tools to pressure the Assad regime. Experts are now proposing convoluted schemes for how the West can rebuild Syria in spite of Assad or how it can

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