Syria: Reconstruction
Syrians at a refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey in 2015. (Credit: radekprocyk/ (via:

This proposal, from German-based think tank and military experts, reflects on Syria’s progress to a point of supremacy over the Islamic State and considers who is responsible for rebuilding the country. Communicating the European policymaking community’s deep concern for Syria’s future, it also tentatively suggests that the necessity of a broad international coalition could also act as a catalyst for a revival in East-West relations.

Towards a federal state that recognises its diversity.
Through the efforts of a ‘grand coalition of the willing’; international military protection; under the security guarantee of the  United States Central Command (USCENTCOM).
Someone has to make the next step; we dare to.

This paper intends to provide an impetus for action – no more, no less. The focus will not be on the past, but on the future. The essential thing is not who should be held responsible for the current situation in Syria, but how we can move on and reconstruct the country.

The economic structure of the Middle East very much reflects the global situation. Almost 90% of all companies operating in the Middle East are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), making up what would be known in Germany as the Mittelstand, a ‘middle tier’ of economic power.

These companies are therefore the vehicle for job creation. Employment in this sector accounts for more than 66% of the labour force. They are the driving force of a division of labour that produces diversification and specialisation. This is important for countries in the Middle East, not all of which possess large oil and gas reserves or other mineral resources. Even those that do are highly vulnerable to changes in the world market prices.

Indispensable preconditions for the building of a stable society include a strong economy with a high rate of employment; free trade; well-developed infrastructure; a strong currency; relatively high living standards; an independent judiciary; a free press; freedom of association; security; and order guaranteed by a robust institutional framework.

Social progress will be evident through the participation of women and the presence of free trade unions, and the foundations of a democratically legitimate order will have to be enshrined in a constitution.

This will require security guarantees. The security architecture that we propose cannot generate a strong economy. Its objective is to create safe and secure conditions for well-defined political and social processes.

Law and justice as a basis for the civilian reconstruction of Syria

The structures of the Syrian state have been widely destroyed. The war has annihilated the significance of traditional roles although an understanding of their purpose lives on, awaiting restoration.

New conditions demand new forms of life. It is necessary to create and establish them, even in the face of resistance.

The best time to rebuild Syrian society is now

First, however, those responsible for all kinds of crime must be brought to justice, in an official and transparent way. The people of Syria must live in dignity and without fear. Only then will people who fled the country return and participate in reconstruction.

Indeed, Syria needs people who have left the country to come back.

Since Syrians came to Europe as refugees fleeing war, torture, and displacement, rather than for economic reasons, their return is only logical.

A ‘grand coalition of the willing’ is a ‘grand coalition of contribution‘  

Those who participated in the devastation of Syria must urgently contribute to its reconstruction. Origins and utilisation of finances must be strictly controlled. The restoration of basic social security must involve helping people to help themselves.

Initial measures must include (but is not exclusive to) the following:

  • Communication structures (media, press, technical equipment);
  • Constructing a democratic administration;
  • Infrastructure/water/energy;
  • Food supplies;
  • Medical and social care;
  • Building a general and vocational school system;
  • The supply of basic commodities.

Those who return to live in Syria should be those who decide on what to do and how. Such tasks are national affairs.

A preliminary security architecture for the whole of Syria

It is obvious that only real power matters, being well understood, able to lead, and to create authority.

Undoubtedly, reconstruction is urgently needed. Despite the withdrawal of United States forces, the US will remain committed to rebuilding Syria. Yet, since many countries and organisations contributed to the defeat of ISIS, why shouldn’t all of them be involved in the reconstruction of the country as part of a ‘grand coalition of the willing’? This coalition should not only include Russia, the United States, and its NATO allies, but also other countries that supported the fight against ISIS, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, Singapore, and Egypt.

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) would be able to ensure the implementation of a new preliminary security architecture that will enable a constitutional society to be built. The legal basis for this is provided by the CENTCOM Mission Statement. The approval of the US president would, however, still be required.

The US Central Command (USCENTCOM) operates in close cooperation with international partners so does not solely consist of its own military forces. Its tasks include responding to crises, preventing and impending acts of force by state and non-state actors, as well as supporting the development and reconstruction of social conditions in order to guarantee regional security, stability, and well-being.

CENTCOM’s strategic approach is to achieve a well-defined goal through strategic partnership, based on mutual respect, trust, and common values.


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DOC expert speaks at a roundtable on Syria, organised by SETA Foundation and Deutsche Orient-Stiftung.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, its co-founders, or its staff members.
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General (ret.), German army,

Hartmut Pauland was a general in the German army. His final position was the Senior National Representative with HQ USCENTOM. He was the first German chairman of the International Coalition of the Willing to defeat ISIS in Tampa, Florida, US.

Colonel (ret.), German air force,

Franz-Josef Pütz was a colonel in the German air force and was a member of the German delegation at the CSCE Follow-up meeting in Vienna, Austria.
Udo von Massenbach

President of American German Business Club Berlin,

Udo Freiherr von Massenbach is an economist and Middle East policy expert. He is the president of American German Business Club Berlin, a member of the Heritage Foundation, and the German Atlantic Society.