Lebanese Cities: The “No Man’s Land” initiative to encourage investment in northern Syria… Will it succeed?
The American-Syrian “Global Justice” organization launched a joint initiative with the “Arab Democratic Alliance” aimed at preparing the areas controlled by the Syrian opposition in the north to attract investments, in light of the United States’ exemption for these areas from the economic sanctions imposed on Syria.
The initiative, titled “No Man’s Land”, focused mainly on the need to work to compel the military factions to leave civilian gatherings in these areas, and to criminalize any form of internal fighting among them, while seeking administrative and legal reform, “in order to create a safe environment for investment.” and development in areas under the control of the Interim Government and the National Army.
The initiative stemmed from the recent American exemption from Caesar’s sanctions, which was issued three months ago by the Treasury Department, and included the regions (Manbij, Al-Bab, Ain Al-Arab, Azaz and Jarabulus), to make it clear that “Syrians must assure themselves, and assure others, that these regions are valid to be models to follow.” In terms of security, judicial equity, the absence of corruption and the stability of civil peace, so that national investors can invest in their country and develop its cities and countryside, in the hope that this initiative will be generalized to become after all of Syria a forbidden land for all.
She added, “If we can prove that these five regions, which have agreed on the possibility of investing in the international powers of influence, the United States and Turkey, then they can be a starting point for safety in all of northern Syria, to show the world that we are able to advance the smallest land in our country and spread its justice.” The initiators stressed that these five areas must be safe in order to attract Syrian businessmen and others.
Although copies of it were handed over to the Syrian Coalition, the Interim Government, and the opposition Negotiations Committee, in addition to the head of the Islamic Council Sheikh Osama al-Rifai, none of these parties has yet issued an official position on it, which has raised questions about the possibility of translating the initiative. And its success, in light of the inability of the political opposition institutions to impose their control and decision on the influential forces in the areas under Turkish influence in the northwest of the country.
Obstacles or obstacles that have constantly limited the reform of the situation in these areas are not limited to the military forces deployed there and their practices there, which include imposing royalties and committing abuses, in addition to the recurring fighting between them, which exacerbated the deterioration of the security situation, but also include local councils. whose negative practices are no less influential than the role of military forces.
In view of the independence enjoyed by the councils in the areas under the control of the opposition, and their subordination to the Turkish states, the interim government has lost its authority over the areas administered by these councils, and has become separate islands in which each of them applies its own decisions,
with the absence of any coordination, which created problems An additional factor that many see as capable of thwarting the initiative.
However, the Vice President of Global Justice, Maysa Qabbani, believes that through cooperation with active countries, this initiative can be implemented.
She said in a statement to Al-Modon: “We realize the magnitude of the difficulties and the depth of the crisis experienced by the areas outside the regime’s control, but we must take the initiative to change this reality and tell the world that we are able to achieve this by establishing a model of governance and administration in this small area of Syria, which we hope To be a model for what our country should be like in the future.”
However, doubts were not limited to the possibility of the military factions and local councils responding to this initiative, but also included the motives behind its launch, as some saw it as part of the efforts of some Syrian capital in the United States to invest in preparing the areas outside the control of the regime in order to invest their money there .
Since the US administration announced the exemptions for these areas from the sanctions, there has been talk about the role of this lobby in issuing them, which many do not see as a negative matter, if true. Strengthening institutional work, given the urgent need in these areas for investment projects, whether profitable or developmental, to contribute to containing the high rates of poverty and unemployment, and improving the conditions of life in them, in addition to benefiting from the huge human mass inhabited by them, the majority of which lives on aid.
Commenting on these doubts, Kabbani says: “We are not businessmen, and if we really want to invest to achieve profits, we can do so easily in the United States itself, or in Turkey, or in Pakistan, and we have charitable projects that are already well-known and announced, such as the Medical Instruments Laboratory that is being established. In Lahore, or any stable region of the world, but whoever makes such accusations is right in one aspect, we really want to invest in the Syrian people, develop their regions and achieve the simplest degree of normal civil life in them.”
It is noteworthy that Global Justice is a non-profit organization, founded in the United States by the Syrian doctor Haitham Al-Bazm, and is active in many regions of the world, such as the African continent, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and others, in the field of humanitarian work and social, health and cultural support.
As for the “Arab Democratic Alliance”, which was established in 2020 “with the aim of protecting and preserving the Jazira and Euphrates region, which includes the governorates (Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa and Hasaka) and its liberation from the PKK, it includes prominent opposition figures.
Reliance on the actors
Fadwa Al-Ajili, the coalition’s external communications officer, told Al-Modon, “Our initiative (the Sacred Land) aims to revive the completely liberated north of Syria, and to provide a developed model for the rest of the areas that we hope will also be liberated from the authority of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which dominates what you know. With the (SDF) and (SDF) institutions that occupy the northern eastern provinces of Syria.”
Regarding the tools that the coalition can employ to translate its initiative, she says: “The practical implementation of this initiative depends on the conviction of the national army factions to keep armed manifestations limited to barracks, military units, and areas of contact with the enemy, and not in markets and populated civilian areas.”
And she believes that this matter “makes the opportunity to benefit from the exemption for the regions in the northwest completely non-existent, so how can investors feel safe and secure in their capital, no matter how small or large, if any dispute or quarrel could spark any fighting in any A moment, which confirms the necessity of resorting to the institutions emanating from the Syrian Interim Government.
Al-Ajili, who stresses the role of political actors in the first place in the initiative’s success, also stressed the need to “put confidence in the wisdom of those Syrian fighters who are also victims of difficult economic conditions in the world, so how about the liberated areas where they close all doors, as the Russians did recently in Security Council regarding blackmailing the international community in the aid file.
While many believe that the fate of this initiative will not be different from other initiatives that were previously launched in order to prevent fighting between factions, abolish armed manifestations in civilian gatherings, and strengthen the rule of law and institutions in areas under the control of the Syrian opposition, enthusiasts say that what distinguishes this initiative It is linking them to the US exemptions granted to these areas from economic sanctions, which could contribute to encouraging political, military and economic forces to cooperate in order to create an attractive environment for investment in them.
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