Making Peace in Syria: Economic Diplomacy.

Author:Dardari, Abdallah Al
Position:Commentary and Analysis - Essay

January/February 2017

Aleppo is a landmark in the Syrian conflict and has become the strongest signal of the failure of the western approach to diplomacy and other means of influence to end the conflict. This failure calls for a dramatic change in the approach if we want to preserve Syria as one country, safeguard its diversity, and ensure the rebuilding of the nation.

The moment fighting in Aleppo ends and the current government, along with the Russians and the Iranians, feel they have the upper hand in this conflict, the immediate goal and challenge is to rebuild. Yet, how do we deliver services and create jobs? How do we support reconstruction? How do we ensure stability after "military achievement"?

To reach any of these objectives, there is a clear need to complement political diplomacy by creating alternate incentives for peace, as peace itself is no longer incentive enough. This alternative is an economic track in the Syrian political process, based on development and reconstruction diplomacy, where a complex and sophisticated approach is designed to link economic international cooperation with progress towards United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. This is not old style conditionality; this is a proactive approach with a constructive vision rather than a destructive one.

For its success, the involvement of all parties is required. It is not enough for one side to adopt it; rather it must be based on inclusiveness and engagement from Moscow and Washington, Riyadh and Teheran, government and opposition groups. In other words, an alliance of the willing is necessary. Economic diplomacy can turn the conflict between parties into a conflict where these parties are one side, and the challenge of peace and reconstruction is on the other.

Indeed, in civil wars, war itself is the enemy. We need to develop tools to win against that enemy, not to win against the other side in that conflict. This requires visionary leadership and concessions that may be lacking in the Syrian conflict. Time has come to abandon the disastrous policies of the last six years, deal with reality, and focus on the most important aspect of the conflict: the future of Syria and the safety and prosperity of its people.

That safety and prosperity needs to be recognized as a global public good. Joint and common investments in this public good are economically and strategically justifiable. Potential mutual concessions and compromises could be justified by...

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