Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger calls for Syria reconstruction planning

U.S. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Photo by: House GOP / CC BY-NC

U.S. Republican frontrunner and presumptive nominee Donald Trump has earned the support of voters in part by promoting a foreign policy of “stability” and attacking any notions that the United States should engage in “nation building,” particularly in the Middle East.

But not everyone in the increasingly disjointed Republican party agrees with Trump’s approach to peace and stability in the region and as the business tycoon inches closer to the nomination, Trump critics within the Grand Old Party are making their voices heard.

An end to war in Syria and renewed peace and security in the region will require a forced removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, close collaboration with regional partners, the establishment of safe zones and planning now for reconstruction, according to U.S. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger who spoke Thursday at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

“The reason you have people fleeing to Europe right now is because they have no safe place to be. Create that safe spot for them in Syria,” Kinzinger said. “Make sure that aid is getting in… defend that safe area with troops on the ground, with a no fly zone … and I think in that context of Syrians being among themselves, you can begin to build the construct of the next government.”

The representative and former Air Force pilot said it’s important to plan now for rebuilding and reconstruction efforts as well as to figure out “where the funding sources are going to come from,” but added that “with an active conflict going on, there’s no use in rebuilding at this point.”

Kinzinger’s comments come as both the global development and humanitarian communities are already preparing for their work in a post-conflict Syria. The world’s largest multilateral donor, for instance, is making a proactive push to prepare for reconstruction in the country and to collaborate with humanitarian organizations in a way the institution hasn’t in the past.

“We’re not actually working in Syria right now, but we’re preparing, and that’s new,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said at the Center For Global Development in Washington, D.C., last week. “We’re mapping all the health clinics and schools that need to be rebuilt right away.”

The World Bank is also working in partnership with the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank to assemble enough funds for a future reconstruction effort in Syria as well as to financially support countries such as Lebanon and Jordan dealing with an influx of refugees across their borders.

Kinzinger stressed that in a post-conflict Syria — what the representative says must also be a post-Assad Syria — the United States should not take the lead in building a democracy, but that the Syrian people need to develop their own form of democracy, and can do so with U.S. support.

The representative admitted that his opposition to Trump’s rhetoric has already cost him politically, but said that “when it comes to issues of foreign policy and leadership, I’m very clear about what I stand for and what I believe.”

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About the author

  • Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.

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