The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria

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Written by Pepe Escobar; Originally appeared at Asia Times

China and Syria have already begun discussing post-war infrastructure investment; with a ‘Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction’ held in Beijing.

The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria

Road to Aleppo: The Chinese don’t forget that Syria controlled overland access to both Europe and Africa in ancient Silk Road times. Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad monitor traffic on the road to Aleppo in Syria on July 10, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki.

Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune.

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune.

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

And there will be serious follow-ups: a Syria Reconstruction Expo; the 59th Damascus International Fair next month, where around 30 Arab and foreign nations will be represented; and the China-Arab States Expo in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui province, in September.

Qin Yong, deputy chairman of the China-Arab Exchange Association, announced that Beijing plans to invest $2 billion in an industrial park in Syria for 150 Chinese companies.

Nothing would make more sense. Before the tragic Syrian proxy war, Syrian merchants were already incredibly active in the small-goods Silk Road between Yiwu and the Levant. The Chinese don’t forget that Syria controlled overland access to both Europe and Africa in ancient Silk Road times when, after the desert crossing via Palmyra, goods reached the Mediterranean on their way to Rome. After the demise of Palmyra, a secondary road followed the Euphrates upstream and then through Aleppo and Antioch.

Beijing always plans years ahead. And the government in Damascus is implicated at the highest levels. So, it’s not an accident that Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha had to come up with the clincher: China, Russia and Iran will have priority over anyone else for all infrastructure investment and reconstruction projects when the war is over.

The New Silk Roads, or One Belt, One Road Initiative (Obor), will inevitably feature a Syrian hub – complete with the requisite legal support for Chinese companies involved in investment, construction and banking via a special commission created by the Syrian embassy, the China-Arab Exchange Association and the Beijing-based Shijing law firm.

Get me on that Shanghai-Latakia cargo

Few remember that before the war China had already invested tens of billions of US dollars in Syria’s oil and gas industry. Naturally the priority for Damascus, once the war is over, will be massive reconstruction of widely destroyed infrastructure. China could be part of that via the AIIB. Then comes investment in agriculture, industry and connectivity – transportation corridors in the Levant and connecting Syria to Iraq and Iran (other two Obor hubs).

What matters most of all is that Beijing has already taken the crucial step of being directly involved in the final settlement of the Syrian war – geopolitically and geo-economically. Beijing has had a special representative for Syria since last year – and has already been providing humanitarian aid.

Needless to add, all those elaborate plans depend on no more war. And there’s the rub.

With the demise of Daesh (ISIS), or at least its imminent loss of any significant urban center, no one knows in what manner a fragmented, phony Caliphate “Sunnistan” might be manipulated into cutting Syria from its New Silk Road future.

Qatar has already provided a game-changer; Doha has gotten closer to Tehran (common interests in South Pars/North Dome gas-field oblige), as well as Damascus – much to the despair of the House of Saud. So, unlike the recent past, Qatar is not engaged in regime change anymore. But still there are the diverging interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and, of course, Washington, to accommodate.

A possible scenario out of what Putin and Trump negotiated in Hamburg – that was not relayed by either Lavrov or Tillerson – is that the ceasefire in southwestern Syria, assuming it holds, could mean US peacekeeping forces in effect sanctioning the creation of a demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Syrian Golan and the rest of the country.

Translation: the Golan de facto annexed by Israel. And the “carrot” for Moscow would be Washington accepting Crimea de facto re-incorporated into the Russian Federation.

That may sound less far-fetched than it seems. The next few months will tell if this is indeed a plausible scenario.

The other big sticking point is Ankara against the YPG Kurds. Contrary to the ominous and quite possible Balkanization scenario, Washington and Moscow might well decide, in tandem, to let them sort things out by themselves. Then we will inevitably have the Turkish army occupying al-Bab for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line: that Saudi Arabia gets nothing. And Israel and Turkey get political/military “wins”. It’s hard to imagine how Moscow could possibly sell this arrangement to Iran as a victory. Still, Tehran may not have a free flow Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah route totally back in action, but it will maintain close relations with Damascus and be engaged in the expansion of the New Silk Roads.

The key question from now on seems to be whether Washington will follow the deep state “Syraq” policy – as in “Assad must go” mixed with support or weaponizing of non-existent “moderate rebels”; or whether Trump’s priority – to eliminate Daesh/ISIS for good – will prevail.

Beijing, anyway, has made up its mind. It will work non-stop for the Iran-Iraq-Syria triumvirate to become a key hub in Obor. Any bets against a future, booming Shanghai-Latakia container route?

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  • Fred

    The main geopolitical issue at this time is the integrity and protection of sovereign nation states from the bullying, exploitation, and actual destruction by the Rothschild controlled axis of the US, GB and Israel. Their objective of destroying Syria and control of the Levant for oil and opening it to a China “silk road” has been in the works for a long time. Murder, mayhem, 9/11, WMD’s, ISIS etc. etc. they have absolutely no moral limits and under any universal religious or moral standards they are absolutely evil.

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  • Cyriak Papasissis

    ” Translation: the Golan de facto annexed by Israel. And the “carrot” for Moscow would be Washington accepting Crimea de facto re-incorporated into the Russian Federation. ” I do not believe that Russia needs a ”carrot” of this type. The sanctions do not damage anymore the Russian economy , and rather have proved to be a hidden benefit , by helping and motivating sectors of the Russian economy to develop , replacing importation with local production . The sanctions and embargo hurt the EU economy , increasing the discomfort among the EU populations against the ruling EU Brussels Cabal. Russia’s reputation and trustworthiness would suffer immeasurably , if it implicitly or explicitly accepts an exchange deal Golan vs. Crimea. Russia’ s image would be inexorably tarnished. The Russians do deals for tactical reasons , they do not give away strategic positions. There is not a chance that such a deal is on the cards.

    • Solomon Krupacek

      The sanctions do not damage anymore the Russian economy ,

      they stiil damage, especially the energetics sector

      • Miguel Redondo

        Would you be so kind and explain how the famous “embargo” affects the energetics sector?
        -Western Europe still gets his gas , Northstream is ready soon to evade the Ukronazis.
        -China gets his gas directly
        -India gets his gas without problems
        -the extracting and drilling technology is homemade and doesn´t need spareparts from western purveyors.

        • Solomon Krupacek

          OK.

          ruusia has not lot of technology, which is needed and uses. alwyas imported from west.

          in lot of siberian fields are not able to repare the equipmnet. also in arctic part russia is not able to begin the works without american technology. you can find lot of articles, also in russian language.

          the newest thing, crimea. russia is not able to build up power plant and produce enough electrical energy witjhout german turbines. there were made fictive firms and smuggled 3 pieces of them into russia.

          you can find large number of articles

          https://www.google.sk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=siemens+turbine+crimea

          russian energy sector is very behind the times without modern western technology.

          i am only correct in my comments. no country owns all technologies. but the russian sickness was always the problem with
          a) high quality machines
          b)electronics
          c) agriculture.

          it seems, finalyy, the point c will be solved. but the first 2 problems stay.

          • Miguel Redondo

            Thank you , Siemens makes the best turbines , no doubt (I worked at Dynamowerk in 1979) , the trade relation with Russia started with Czar Nikolai II. So why should Russia not buy from his old partners?

          • Solomon Krupacek

            i told, that russia is not able to produce turbines (and some other equipments) in enough good quality. needs to bus from western countries. and therefore in this field the embargo harms to russia.

            of course both sides do everything to avoid the really painful effects of embargo.

            other time, other dierction ov vector. americans wanted to make good titan compositions. but the titan-cadmium is very hard and after the preparing of 1 thing they had to change the machine. what did theay? made dozen os ficitv socialist firms and bought soviet titan compositions. which was of course not allowed by ussr. this was the way how to pass the soviet embargo. and from this tricky buyed soviet metal built the sr-71 :)

            it is nio shame, that one vountry is not able to produce somethimg. but it is very comical and absurd, if somebody try to lie about this fact.

            have a nice evening!

          • MeThinks

            The Russians developed their rocket program from the scraps of nothing left behind when the Americans scurried it away to the USA from the defeated 3rd Reich, along with their lead scientists in the program.
            The Russians were winning the space race back to back until that is, the nazi founder of NASA in frustration over delays, funding, and military contract favoritism reached out to the american public to promote support for his ideals and perhaps pressure for additional funding. His source in the public sector was Walt Disney, which is very telling because after his interaction with Walt Disney, the USA started winning, even producing a video of them on the moon. I believe the Russians can overcome these things you say are limiting their development, so keep thinking the sh*t you do are cracky in some delusional way, Russia

            Russian rockets to this very day can break through the orbital barriers and get to where they need to go, reliable, where as the US who somehow had a rocket that allegedly went to the moon, clearing perhaps 100 times the distance, and can’t seem to duplicate the feat

          • Solomon Krupacek

            and? what now, hater?
            russi had horolyov. bravo. russia was and is good in rocket technique. ok. and is weak in hundreds of others. ok. this is the reason, why lost the cold war. ok.
            and what now, hater? do you want to live from 1 technique, or are you able to lern from others and develope?
            until today the russians ape western countries. alse the reforms in army made by shoygu run according american model.
            fuck yourself with single one technology, commie!

          • MeThinks

            You, too funny
            Understand the simple concept, it was developed from shi*t and from nothing. I’m pretty sure the Russians can develop anything in the world. Russia don’t need you, all it needs is the blueprint, if even that, and it could get it from China, so eat shi*t, hater… loser

          • Solomon Krupacek

            no, boy. rusians developed unde stalin. but direction bind way. in the last 6-7 decades no changes. i know them good.

          • MeThinks

            Phuk You and yours

      • They damage Europe more than Russia —- perhaps they are meant to.

        • Solomon Krupacek

          i am living here, and can tell you, the EU did not recognize anything. sure, some little firms feel it, but the euripean economy not. BUT, the russian economy yes. this the assymetric shit, what russians like :D

      • Justin Ryan

        They DO NOT damage the energy sector of Russia!
        1. Germany refuses more sanctions against Russia because Nord Stream 2 has been agreed to! Germany benefits greatly by being a gas hub to Northern Europe.
        2. Russia STILL supplies gas via Ukraine to Europe.
        3. Turkstream HAS BEEN SIGNED and is currently being build right now! They are literally laying the pipes in the Black Sea right now!
        4. Russia is building pipelines to China as we speak!
        5. Japan is in talk with Russia to also receive gas from the Chinese pipeline.
        EUROPE NEEDS GAS! There is no arguing that and THEY NEED MORE! But they wanted to diversify their suppliers so they would not be beholden by a single supplier politically. But their plans to do that really screwed up (ref. Kiev coup and Qatar pipeline through Syria)
        So if they want to diversify they will need to buy MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE American Shale gas that is shipped over!
        They will now get MORE gas from Russia.
        They will also get gas from Iran (them same gas well that Qatar shares)
        And from Azerbaijan which runs through Turkey giving Turkey more power!

        This is a complete loss for the USA and Europe but the Europeans want and need gas and they want it cheap! So…. the cheapest gas u can get is from Russia!

        So since before the Syrian war and Ukraine coup there was only pipelines going from Russia to Europe from:
        1. Nord Stream 1to Germany
        2. multiple routes through Ukraine

        Then Ukraine coup started and Syrian war (to get these pipelines from Qatar)

        So after these wars now there is:

        1. Nord Stream 1to Germany
        2. multiple routes through Ukraine
        3. Nord Stream 2 to Germany
        4. Turkstream (to Turkey and Southern Europe)
        5. 3 pipelines to China
        6. Potential pipelines (and likely to happen) to Japan

        So please tell me where in this is Russia’s energy sector effected??

        I rest my case!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHojHv3Jny0&index=42&list=FL5a7exFGzl7wd0XBpwu7t_Q

      • Justin Ryan
        • Solomon Krupacek

          i dont trust turks. i will believe in this project, wehen already 10 years flows the gas.

          • Justin Ryan

            Hey u know what…… I agree with u here!
            I dont trust Turkey and I certainly don’t Trust Erdogan!

        • More

          Justin Ryan
          This video is from June 2015, more than 2 years ago.

          Turkstream was cancelled in Dec 2015, resigned up later in 2016.

          Work has supposed to have been started on Turkstream but it is deliberately going slowly as there is a high chance it will not be built.

          Iran will compete for the gas business in Turkey with its own pipeline.

          Total just announced a US$1 Billion towards development of the South Pars gas field.

          http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Total-Ready-To-Bet-1B-On-Iranian-Gas-Field.html

          If Russia manages to build Turkstream, the competition with Iran will cause a severe price drop and both countries will make minimum profits.

          However Turkey will make money and feed the EU with Iranian gas and compete with supplying Russia’s No 1 customer, the EU.

      • goingbrokes

        Low prices do damage the energy sector, but it is important to remember that it damages ALL oil producers, not just Russia. The calculus was that it would cripple Russia and just damage others a little. Nothing of the kind has happened – Russia is not crippled and Saudis are in trouble because of the decrease in income. Virtually all the sanctions appear to have been miscalculations on the western part.

      • I’d say ‘sanctions are good for the Russian economy’ —- in the long run.
        Whatever damage they might do in the short term, they force self-reliance and, most importantly, diversification. …. We already see farmers in Russia worried that sanctions might be lifted.

    • Why does Russia need/want the US to “recognise” Crimea?
      What difference would it make? Crimea is already “in the Russian Federation” to stay.

      • solomon mlambo

        I agree with you more. This was a silly piece of analysis by the lead analyst. Russia is in no strategic desperation nor tactical adversity for that! The USA Axis is instead. The evil axis has always desired the balkanisation of Syria on Israel’s terms. USA must be denied this endgame by all humanity put together even at the cost of Armageddon!!

    • Justin Ryan

      You make a fantastic statement here! I really enjoyed reading this!
      I agree completely about Russia not needing a carrot for Crimea. They already have Crimea. Israel already has the Golan.
      USA will lose Turkey to the Eurasian Union and perhaps even to NATO which means the Black Sea is off limits to NATO forces.
      With Turkey now holding the cards to Europe’s much needed gas supplies via Turkstream, they will hold some leverage. This Kurdish state will not exist simply because Iran, Syria and Turkey want nothing to do with it! Iraq is Iran now!
      Im sorry but Russia and Iran hold all the aces here! But what we can be sure of is that Israel wants the Golan for themselves yet UN resolution 242 (which the Israeli’s signed) states that the Golan area is Syria’s but that newly found oil field is just too tempting.
      The coup in kiev can be proven which is a justification for Crimea’s reunification. But the Golan area is a totally different story. Israel knows thats Syrian land yet they occupy it and are drilling for oil as we speak! Its total theft!
      We will have another war happening soon against Israel and what amazes me is that the Saudi’s (sunni Wahhabi muslims) will be helping the Israeli jewish state. This will be the end of both in my opinion!

    • solomon mlambo

      Syrian Golan will not and must not be “golanised” again. If this is the deep state endgame, then they (the Rothschild Axis of Evil – USA, GB and Israel) must ready themselves for a hell run fight with Hezbollah they sure will loose in the final reckoning. Russia is a historical defender of legitimate national sovereignty and will not accept the extension of the Israeli Buffer Zone south of Damascus. Syria, emboldened by their nascent victory over evil axis forces, will and must demand back the Golan Heights instead and get it now by force or never. Remember the oil wealth the Rothschild players have proved beyond doubt there!! Syria needs the blessings from nature to rebuild. I will be willing to join them in a fight to liberate Golan. Israel (synagogue of satan) should never be allowed to taste or smell victory in its ugly military schisms in the Middle East. Alluta Continua!!!

    • More

      Cyriak Papasissis
      “…The sanctions do not damage anymore the Russian economy…”

      The Neoconservatives will bring Russia to its knees as time goes on because Putin operates on a Do Nothing, Wait and See What Happens scenario.

      The current sanctions may still be damaging the Russian economy slightly, say by 1% to 2% per year which Russia can live with.

      However there are new US Iran style sanctions that are waiting to be applied on the Russian Federation.

      The new sanctions will also apply to 3rd countries and their companies if they engage in (example) the building or operation of Nord Stream 2 or any business dealings across a wide range of Russian industries then the 3rd country or a company will face prosecution and fines in the US running into many US$100’s of Millions or even US$ Billion plus.

      The US Senate has already passed new tougher sanctions by a vote of 98%) pending the House of Representatives vote.

      Senate revises Russia sanctions bill, sends it to House
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sanctions-house-idUSKBN19K2CQ

      Republican senator dismisses procedural claims on Russia sanctions bill
      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sanctions-congress-idUSKBN19V2SA

  • George King

    I agree with both Cyriac & Fred on this issue/s. The multi polar world of (peace) trade and win win versus zero sum game of empire cannot be tolerated without the capitulation of the win win. The “New Silk Road’s” prosperity depends on Nation States’ sovereignty as internal affairs not bartering.

    • Amon -Ra- DeArmond

      I’m afraid that the deep state wont let USA fall as the world hegemon (the same way the USSR did in 1991) and will unleash a nuclear war to end it all,those people are literally insane.

  • RichardD

    Syria is all about pushing back the Jew pedophile cult 4 global conquest and hegemony drive of Israel, the US, France and the UK. Where along with Canada over 95% of the planet’s Jew pedophile cultists live. Jew pedophile cultists are a parasitical political disease infecting nations where they congregate with their Talmud supremacist, control freak, victimization and exploitation ideology. With Jew pedophile cultists in control positions driving the host nation’s policy in the direction beneficial to the Jew pedophile cult cabal and detrimental to the exploited host nation’s citizens.

    Egypt and Syria are feared by Israel and are targets of Jew pedophile cult subterfuge trying to prevent them from developing as strong prosperous nations capable of containing and challenging the Zionist colonial drive in the middle east. With it’s incessant wars, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

    Rewarding the Jew pedophile cult cabal and the Jew pedophile cult 4 with the defacto partitioning of Syria, as the author is suggesting, would be akin to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Russia, China and Iran know that allowing Jew pedophile cult 4 victory in Syria, just brings Jew pedophile cult 4 regime change operations against them one step closer. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to heal Palestine, the US, France and the UK of their Jew pedophile cult political parasite infection.

    A strong prosperous Syria with an advanced Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Lebanese military coalition on Israel’s border is going to be a strong impediment to Israeli aggression against the region and the Palestinians. And properly managed should be a big help in implementing all of the UN and other resolutions that Israel is violating to the detriment of the Palestinians, the region and humanity.

    • More

      RichardD
      “…A strong prosperous Syria with an advanced Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Lebanese military coalition…”

      Russia has to be excluded from the alliance because Kosher loving Putin – Russia are dishonest as well as pro Israel.

      Kosher winer and diner Putin – Russia is negotiating Syrian land away in Idlib, Northern Syria, Raqqa, Al Tanf, Southern Syria, Deraa, etc.

      • RichardD

        Partitioned by whom, the invaders losing every battle? The Syria coalition wouldn’t be winning every battle without Russian air power and logistical support. The Syria government footprint is increasing every day and the invader footprint is decreasing. Your comment is nonsense.

        • More

          RichardD
          OK, explain who is in control of the below:
          Deraa
          Al Tanf
          Deir Ez Zor
          Raqqa
          Idlib
          etc

  • MeThinks

    Im gonna go with Belt

    Chinese cargo ships

  • SOF

    Great news.

  • A real tangible sign things are looking up for Syria.

  • More

    Syria connecting with China will be a very good thing.

    These are the obstacles Syria faces:
    US – EU sanctions
    Israeli controlled US led “Terror Axis” loose and embedded around Syria
    Putin – Russia – Israel alliance which prevents the Iran Iraq, Syria oil and gas pipeline to Cyrus and the EU
    Other