Syria making transition to peace. Part one of two

US threatens sanctions against any nation helping to rebuild

Rebuilding, despite US
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While the US threatens Lebanon with sanctions if they help to rebuild Syria, Syria turns to the work of life with peace. We translate Karin Leukefeld’s report in RT Germany:
Marching order: home: living in Syria at the end of the war
The troop withdrawal announced by the US president leaves most Syrians cold. For them, the reconstruction of the country is in the foreground. However, where the US troops are stationed, there are growing concerns about a Turkish invasion that could follow a US withdrawal.

“Good that the Americans have announced their withdrawal from Syria.” The answer of Mazen A., a retired dentist in Damascus, comes promptly: “But let’s not fool ourselves. They will stay in Iraq. And their jets can be back in Syria in five minutes. ”
After eight years of war, the Syrians have no illusions. Their country is destroyed, their well-educated youth are gone, sanctions gag everyday life, and money is lacking for reconstruction. The fact that the US troops — who have built 21 military bases on Syrian territory east of the Euphrates and in the border triangle area Syria-Iraq-Jordan in violation of international law — are now intending to leave, is now welcomed.

But everyday life in most parts of the country is not really affected. In an interview with the author in early January 2019, a high-ranking military source in Damascus says: “We only start from what we actually have on the ground, and so far there are only words.”

When asked if the army was preparing to cross the Euphrates as soon as the Americans left, the answer comes without hesitation: “Of course.”

For thousands of soldiers and officers, the announced US troop withdrawal no longer plays a priority role. After eight years of war, they were given the order to march home to their families at the beginning of the new year. The faces of the soldiers at the gates of military installations are radiant. They exchange uniforms for plain clothes, sweets are distributed, and plans are forged, which will now begin with the new civilian life.

“The war is over,” says the general, who served on all fronts. “The young men will be able to sleep in, start a family, take a job, rebuild their lives.”

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And what about the traces that the war has left on soldiers and officers? How will they handle the injuries, the loss of friends, the terrible things they have seen? After a moment of hesitation, a broad smile spreads across the officer’s face: “God has made us a great gift,” he says. “We can forget.” The horrors of the war would in future be overshadowed by joy, security, departure and, hopefully, good experiences that would help all Syrians.

As much as the families and friends rejoice over the return of their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons and friends, yet there are the daily worries that the restored normal life in Syria brings with it. Prices have increased tenfold, the Syrian pound has lost value. With his salary of 50,000 Syrian pounds (about 100 euros) per month, Hanan worries if he can feed his family. He is working in a hotel in Damascus.

“We’re six people and need 150,000 pounds per month to eat, and  have electricity and water, cooking gas and heating oil for heating.” After work in the hotel, he sells socks, gloves, or, when it’s raining, umbrellas on a street stand.

Still, the family is doing reasonably well because the son drives poultry from the slaughterhouse to supermarkets for six hours a day. “He earns almost three times what I do, really good. That’s why we do not have to go hungry.” However, meat has not been part of the diet for a long time, says Hanan. They can afford poultry only three times a month. He does not want to complain, since workers in other hotels usually receive much less than he does.

The state removes the war rubble, undertakes the reconstruction of roads and bridges and restores the electricity and water supply. Aleppo, the former economic metropolis is full of construction sites, with the help of solar panels in places and streets, the public power supply has been restored.

On the initiative of the Agha Khan Foundation, part of the old town will be restored, but UNESCO can not provide any money for further work on the World Heritage Site because donor countries are forbidding.

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