Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1417, (8 - 14 November 2018)
Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Issue 1417, (8 - 14 November 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Reconstruction dilemmas

Reem Leila listened to experts discuss the problems of post-conflict reconstruction

 

Reconstruction dilemmas
Reconstruction dilemmas

“To destroy is easier than to create,” said Czech novelist and playwright Ivan Klíma. The adage is certainly true when it comes to the rebuilding of countries destroyed by civil strife. This week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi reminded the audience of the World Youth Forum that the cost of rebuilding Syria will be more than $300 billion. Speaking during the forum’s “Rebuilding societies and states in the context of post-conflict” session, Al-Sisi questioned who will pick up the bill.

“It is very easy to start a war but very difficult to end it and build peace,” UN Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said during the session. The conflict in Syria, he said, was a proxy war in which five states were militarily involved, and from which terrorists have been the main beneficiaries.

What is most urgently needed, said De Mistura, are confidence building measures and the drafting of a constitution. “During this process we can prepare for elections, bringing together all those who have been excluded,” he added.

De Mistura argued many Syrians had felt excluded as a result of the historic political domination of a minority group. “I think the only solution to end this terrible conflict which has killed thousands, injured more than one million and resulted in the destruction of Syria is to integrate everybody in society,” he said.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said terrorism was the main cause of conflict in the region. “There is a dire need for coordinated international and national efforts to eradicate this phenomenon,” Shoukri said. He added it was “essential to promote the concept of citizenship within societies and exclude all forms of discrimination based on religious or sectarian grounds”.

Central to the rebuilding process, said Shoukri, is to consolidate national institutions. But before any of this can happen it is necessary to end the conflict. Only then will the international community be able to participate in reconstruction efforts that follow legitimate channels and prioritises what citizens want.

“It is essential to involve everyone in the reconstruction process, especially women and youth. Youth must take the lead, learn and be aware,” said Shoukri.

Egypt opposes intervention in the internal affairs of other countries but cooperates with the UN in seeking permanent solutions for existing conflicts under international law, concluded Egypt’s foreign minister.

UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé told participants that attempts were underway to unify security forces in Egypt’s western neighbour.

“Soon all militias will be removed from state institutions,” he said.

The police force, which has long been neglected, is being reconstructed.

“We are currently establishing a new security committee composed of former officers. The Ministry of Interior is screening and rehabilitating its original staff, forming a regular force to preserve peace and maintain security in the country,” said Salamé.

“In Libya, the conflict is over resources rather than ideology, and we are currently trying to rebuild the Libyan state as the sole legitimate entity. It is a difficult task.”

Christian Dussey, director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), stressed the importance of education in reconstruction.

“Education is essential for fragile countries. It helps spread enlightenment, peace, culture, civilisation and security.”

Dussey stressed that young people needed to be targeted specifically since it was the young, he argued, who are most vulnerable to the proslytisers of extremism.

 

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