As the Syrian conflict continues, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura met with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a private meeting on Thursday. During the meeting, according to a press release from the State Department, the two men discussed the need to move forward on a political track to resolve the issues in Syria before any discussion of reconstruction could commence.
“Pompeo and Special Envoy de Mistura agreed that all parties needed to move ahead on the political track and that any discussion of reconstruction was premature absent a political solution leading unalterably to both constitutional reform and free and fair elections as described in UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” said the press release.
Refugees should return to a safe, secure Syria
While the U.S. clearly supports the return of Syrian refugees to their home country, Secretary of State Pompeo made it clear that the conflict needed to be resolved first, so that they could return to a safe and secure country. There also needs to be involvement with the UN agencies to help in the reconstruction effort of Syria.
On Wednesday, Hussein Makhlouf, the Syrian Minister of Local Administration and Environment, indicated that Western sanctions against Syria are going to hamper any restoration efforts. He pointed out that the sanctions need to be lifted and that doing so would also benefit the Syrian refugees.
Syria’s Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry indicated that it has developed a strategy to provide energy resources to the country through 2033. Other Syrian agencies indicated that they would be working to rehabilitate the country, thus providing jobs and services to Syrians in the country and those returning.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has previously said that rebuilding Syria was going to take approximately $400 billion in light of the damage from the conflict, which has been raging through the nation since 2011. In June, Assad said he would not accept assistance from Western powers after they indicated that funds for rebuilding Syria would only be available after he was no longer in power.
Syrian conflict divides International Community
The civil war in this country is seven years old and involves government forces fighting rebels, along with various terrorist organizations. Russia, Iran, and Turkey are the guarantor of a ceasefire in the country that does not appear to be sticking. Iran and Russia are backing Assad, while Turkey appears to be divided on the issue. Western nations appear to be backing the rebels, but with so many splinter groups, progressive talks to end the conflict have proven difficult.
The meeting between Pompeo and de Mistura occurred as the Syrian government ramps up its efforts to retake Idlib, which is a rebel stronghold. Part of the meeting discussed the potential for a humanitarian crisis in Idlib and ways to avoid that happening.