(The Daily Star/Betsy Joles)
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On the walls of Tripoli's derelict train station, faded graffiti praising Syria's former President Hafez Assad recalls a period during the Civil War when Syrian troops once occupied the station. However, plans to rehabilitate Tripoli's railroad could make it a pivotal piece of infrastructure in Syria's own postwar reconstruction. Semitrucks parked along the road outside the railroad's property carry sugar between Tripoli and Syria's coastal city of Tartous, 60 kilometers away. With eyes on reconstruction in Syria, the proximity of the railroad to both the port and the Syrian border presents an opportunity to further connect the countries while putting Tripoli squarely back on the country's economic map. Compared to other railroad reconstruction projects from Beirut to northern Lebanon, which would be more costly and difficult to build, the line running from Tripoli to Syria has the potential to provide quick economic returns because foreign entities like the Chinese government are already interested in investing in Syria's reconstruction.With Tripoli's potential as a hub for foreign investment to plan for reconstruction projects in Syria, the railway could play a part in restructuring the Lebanese economy away from a Beirut-centric model.
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