Despite the looming threat of further military conflict in and around Manbij in northern Syria, the city is experiencing economic growth.
Residents from Manbij in northern Syria have expressed their happiness with the revival of reconstruction projects throughout the city, despite the lingering uncertainty over the city’s future in light of threats made by neighbouring Turkey and the US’ withdrawal announcement at the end of last year.
“Turkish threats and rumours have not affected urban development,” said one of the citizens. “We have not stopped construction, and all materials are available.”
While citizens have previously complained about the slow reconstruction of the city, due to the absence of aid and increasing prices, the reconstruction movement has made a remarkable recovery in Manbij.
According to members of Manbij’s Civic Council, the council has also granted over 1,100 commercial building permits throughout the city, in addition to the dozens of homes that are being built on a monthly basis.
“Manbij is witnessing a huge urban movement where the people of Manbij come to the municipality to obtain building permits,” said a member of the local Civic Council. “The building owners submit the required documents to the municipality, and the technical office carries out a survey on site and submits the observations and report to the mayor’s office.”
As a result of this rapid increase in reconstruction projects, unemployment levels in the city have significantly dropped.
“There is no unemployment and people are working,” said a local citizen.
Since the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated Manbij from ISIS control in August 2016, rehabilitation projects have waxed and waned depending on the political situation of the city.
In April 2018, tensions rose between the SDF and the Turkish forces in northern Syria. However, an agreement was reached when US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, met with Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on the 4th of June 2018. The deal resulted in the coordinated retreat of the SDF, and the setting up of joint Turkish-US patrols in the city.
However, following the US’ announcement that it will withdraw its troops as “ISIS was defeated in Syria” tensions have started once again between the Kurds and Turks, with the political wing of the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), attempting to reach a political agreement with the Syrian Government in order to allow the organisation to survive.
Despite these political and security issues that the city continually faces, citizens of Manbij are attempting to rebuild their city with modest resources.
This shows the Syrian people’s steadfastness in the face of hardships and political conflicts.