Every construction project begins with building a new foundation. But before that process can begin, the existing foundation must be leveled. That leveling stage is precisely what is needed in Syria today. In order to rebuild Syria, the current leadership must be removed.
President Bashar al-Assad was elected in 2000 after the death of his father. However, Assad remained unopposed as political opposition is not permitted in Syria. Under Assad’s presidency – or more appropriately, dictatorship – civil war continues to ravage the country and because it is still being reduced to rubble, the rebuilding stage seems to be more like a lost cause. Syria’s government needs more than rebuilding; it requires a reset.
Rebuilding is not just relegated to the literal reconstruction of Syrian infrastructure, but also their entire way of life. Many families have migrated to other corners of the country, with some seeking refuge outside in Europe or Asia. These mass migrations have put the children of Syria at a great disadvantage, leaving them without any formal education during these war-laden times.
Internal conflicts began in 2011 as a democratic response to Assad’s increasingly authoritarian rule. The government’s response was to add fuel to the fire and mercilessly kill protestors, leading to a slow escalation as various rebel groups began to grow. Since the start of the conflict, nearly 13.5 million Syrians have required humanitarian assistance while over 250,000 Syrians have been killed and more than a million wounded. There looks to be no end in sight because there is no real coalition against the government, but rather upwards of one thousand separate rebel groups. And to complicate matters even more, the Islamic State has overtaken vulnerable parts of Syria during the civil war. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s affinity for the Assad regime only strengthens the government’s military advantage. Being able to rely on a Russia supply of weapons has put Syria at a distinct advantage when combatting rebels.
So the key to rebuilding Syria is finding a way to overthrow Assad. Even if Assad entertains discussions of peace, his track record proves that he cannot be trusted. This is a man who purportedly unleashed chemical weapons on his own citizens. These cruel and barbaric tactics have garnered the attention of the U.S., and while there have been talks of allied countries possibly invading Syria and overthrowing Assad, Russia’s close ties with Assad could lead to their intervention and result in a large-scale conflict of dramatic proportions.
While all of these obstacles remain in place, it is the people of Syria who continue to suffer the most. And as long as there is conflict, the Islamic State will continue to find cracks in the country’s infrastructure. This will allow IS to gain more of a foothold and become one more obstacle standing in the way of a new Syria. Installing a government that is not at war with its people is the first step. Only a unified Syria can thwart the Islamic State and begin to build a unified country of its own. The Syrian government has shown little regard for its people and it’s no secret on how to remedy that issue. Assad has been at the core of Syria’s problems and rebuilding the country cannot be done while he is in power.
New construction always begins with a new foundation. How that will be accomplished in Syria is another matter altogether. But it is clear that Syria requires some form of intervention in order to move forward. There is no rebuilding with Assad in power, only a further deterioration of the current society and the killing of more innocent Syrians. The rebuild can only begin when the current regime is completely leveled and incapable of doing harm to its people.