Marshall Plan needed to pull Syria’s neighbors from the brink, says global coalition
REUTERS photoAs political leaders gathered to discuss a political solution for Syria in Vienna on Nov. 14, a global coalition called on G-20 leaders to develop a Middle East Recovery Plan (MERP), a Marshall Plan-like investment plan, to pull Syria’s neighbors back from the brink after more than four years of conflict.
The coalition, made up of international NGOs, international political and labor leaders and the global campaigning organization Avaaz, called on leaders meeting directly across the water from Syria to commit to a plan that provides robust support to Syria’s neighbors, who have hosted the vast majority of refugees since that conflict erupted in 2011.
As part of the call, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the G-20 leaders in Turkey “must focus on the need to rebuild this shattered region so that economic and security conditions are improved. The MERP puts important ideas on the table to help the international community forge a better way forward.”
The coalition’s campaign is backed by the Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII) called “The Middle East Recovery Plan: Act Now or Pay Later,” which makes the case for a Marshall Plan-style investment effort in the countries hosting the majority of Syria’s refugees - namely Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan - to help steady their economies, decrease incentives towards extremism and provide a stable basis for political negotiations towards what Syrians ultimately demand: A political solution to the conflict based on human rights.
MEII President Jim Pickup said, “Partnerships and alliances with local host communities, Syrian refugee communities as well as international governments, the private sector and civil society organizations must be built to design a comprehensive plan that provides refugees fleeing their homes the opportunity to work and make a better life for themselves and their families.”
The MERP is a proposed recovery program based on mutual cooperation, infrastructural investment and support for local enterprise. Although inspired by the Marshall Plan that helped Europe rise from the ashes of the last World War and become the world’s largest economic bloc, the MERP needs to benefit from the coordinated goodwill and ambition of all G-20 leaders, not just the United States.