Iraq News

Coalition boosts infrastructure projects in Syria's north-east

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo


A delegation comprised of representatives from the international coalition and the SDF meets with businessmen in al-Hasakeh's al-Shaddadi district in October. [Photo via Eye on al-Hasakeh Facebook page]

The international coalition battling the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has been engaged in efforts to stimulate the local economy of north-east Syria by supporting infrastructure projects.

Local Syrian companies and businessmen in al-Hasakeh province are bidding for tenders to implement projects funded by the coalition, thereby stimulating the region's entire economy, activists told Diyaruna.

This will in turn serve as a deterrent to terrorist groups, particularly ISIS, from taking advantage of the dire financial conditions faced by Syrian citizens.

A delegation of advisers from the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) visited al-Shaddadi in southern al-Hasakeh in late October to finalise procedures to register for tenders for projects funded by the coalition.

The tenders are related to infrastructure work at coalition bases and in towns and villages in north-east Syria, activist Ammar Saleh told Diyaruna.

The process of selecting companies and individuals applying for tenders is subject to stringent criteria to ensure they are not associated with ISIS and the funds they receive will not be directed to support the group, he said.

The number of companies that attended the October meeting was much higher than those that attended a similar meeting a few months ago, he noted.

This demonstrates the willingness of businessmen in the region to work with the coalition and SDF, he said, adding that this might form the nucleus of a business community that respects the law and does not support corruption or terrorism.

The coalition also supports many development projects implemented by local companies in the Deir Ezzor region, he said, including in the health, electricity, water and transportation sectors.

Stimulating local economy

Relief organisations and security officials are focused on improving living conditions in al-Hasakeh and Deir Ezzor to prevent ISIS from exploiting poverty to recruit civilians through financial enticements, said Sumaya al-Issa, a volunteer with a local charity in al-Hasakeh.

The move by coalition forces and the SDF to grant contracts through tenders will "reduce unemployment among young workers and steer them away from terrorism", she told Diyaruna.

At the same time, it benefits small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and will stimulate the economy by increasing the demand for raw materials, said al-Issa. This will boost business for many traders in the region who have been mired in recession.

Sharif Mohammad, a resident of rural al-Hasakeh who works in agriculture, told Diyaruna that coalition forces are supporting a large number of projects implemented by local Syrian companies.

These include projects to restore electricity and water services and install new pumps, some of which are devoted to drinking water and others to irrigation, he said.

Mohammad said the resumption of work in irrigation canals has greatly helped farmers to return to work in large numbers.

This has stimulated the economy, he said, as it requires daily labourers, tractor drivers and means of transporting fertilisers and crops.

It also revitalised the markets and caused a drop in the price of some crops that are now available in abundance, he said, noting that this will provide relief to residents and ease the financial pressure they are facing.

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