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By : Nura Ibold

The wave of popular unrest in the Arab world reached Syria in March 2011, and what started as peaceful demonstrations with simple demands of justice and freedom turned into a brutal armed conflict and a full-scale civil war. Over seven years of conflict resulted in the deaths of over half a million Syrians, the forced displacement of millions more, and a huge loss of the country’s social and physical structures. What began as another Arab Spring movement against a dictatorial regime has turned into a proxy war that has attracted the interests of the world and regional powers. The paper discusses Syria’s political history and investigates the motives for the Syrian uprising and argues that it is related to socio-economic deprivations rather than sectarianism. The work underlines the interests of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict focusing on Russia, USA, Iran, and Turkey, as well as their contribution to the future reconstruction of the country.

Over the past few years, the Syrian regime and its allies targeted many cities and destroyed opposition-held neighborhoods. The work considers if this destruction was part of an overall strategy adopted by the al-Assad regime to terrorize those who opposed it and change Syria demographically, examining the new laws issued by the government to transfer public properties into the hands of its loyal businessmen factions, as in the case of the reconstruction project in the city of Homs.

Seven years of war exhausted Syria’s financial stocks, and the country (and in turn the regime) is suffering the consequences of military spending. But like any other war, destruction is also a great opportunity to generate money through reconstruction and growth. It is a “win-win situation”; the regime will use the fund designated for reviving the country to its own benefit, gaining future profits. Already invested in the conflict, involved countries will be part of the reconstruction process to secure their presence and control in Syria. United Nations agencies like UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) are working closely with the Syrian regime and its governmental representatives. This research examines their involvement and how their ‘humanitarian mission’ is being exploited to prop up the al-Assad regime.

Keywords: Syria, Civil War, Urban Policies, Reconstruction, UN agencies, International Involvement.

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