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  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For decades, the Assad regime rallied support and crushed dissent in Syrian society through mobilizing networks of local intermediaries. Since 2011, the varying relationships between the central authorities in Syria, these local inter- mediaries, and the country’s different localities have played a fundamental role in shaping the outbreak of protests and descent into armed conflict. While six years of war have left the state’s administrative structures in tatters, Bashar al- Assad’s regime has focused on maintaining, reviving, or renewing its network of local intermediaries to keep control in its areas and retake lost territory. However, the conflict has crucially and irreparably changed local politics in Syria, and a return to the pre-2011 status quo is impossible. For any negotiated settlement to be sustainable, these changes will need to be incorporated into a new, decentralized power-sharing bargain, which will shape Syria’s economic and physical reconstruction and postconflict recovery.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Civil War, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In 2012, when Bashar al-Assad’s regime withdrew most of its security forces from the Jazira in northeastern Syria, it ceded local power to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing. The PYD replicated past regime behavior, focusing on maintaining a secure hold of this strategic geographical area at the expense of effective governance. This approach has hindered the prospect of building a self-sustained administration. At the same time, outside actors such as Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, and the United States have inadvertently reinforced the PYD’s security-focused rule while pursuing their own security concerns. Exploring potential avenues to peace and stable governance in Syria requires carefully identifying the interrelated nature of these various actors’ security concerns in the Jazira.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Political Theory, Governance
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Kheder Khaddour, Kevin Mazur
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With all eyes on western Syria, developments in eastern Syria, which is populated mainly by tribal communities, will be just as important for the country’s future. Numerous parties involved in Syria’s conflict—including the Assad regime, radical Islamists, Turkey, and the Kurds—have sought to integrate tribal leaders into their political agendas, believing their tribes would follow. However, these leaders no longer have the authority they once did. Syria’s conflict has forced tribal communities to turn inwards, and such localization has further undermined tribal solidarities.
  • Topic: Political structure, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Salam Kawakibi
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: In this new research paper, ARI’s Deputy Director, Salam Kawakibi analyses the Assad regime’s exploitation of sectarian and confessional divisions and deconstructs the myths used in its political rhetoric to gain power and present itself as the ultimate line of defence for minorities.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura, Kelhan Martin
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Two million Aleppo residents are trapped in the city because of accelerating fighting between the Syrian government forces and opposition fighters from various factions. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has prompted the United Nations to put aside Syria peace talks in favor of gaining agreement on a cease fire to deliver humanitarian aid. The Chicago Council Survey shows that while Americans favor targeted military action against violent extremist groups like the Islamic State in Syria, they are less supportive of US involvement in the internal conflict in Syria between the Assad regime and anti-government forces.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, Humanitarian Aid, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Isam al Khafaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Syrian revolt, which has disintegrated into a bloody attrition war, has been largely viewed as that of a majority Sunni population trying to depose a regime belonging to the minority Alawite sect. While this view may present a partially true explanation, it fails to explain why the involvement of different Sunni regions in the revolt varied to a large extent and the rising gap between the anti-Assad urbanites on the one hand and the armed militants on the other. It further fails to account for the wide diversity within the rebellion camp and the hostilities among the mushrooming opposition groups.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Fred H. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: By the autumn of 2013, the Middle Eastern regional security complex (RSC) had taken on a new configuration, which was substantially different from—and much more explosive than—the one that existed prior to the large-scale popular uprisings that broke out across the Arab world in the winter of 2010-11. Foreign policies adopted between 2000 and 2010 by the Ba‘thi regime in Damascus, the leaderships of Hizbullah and HAMAS, and the Israeli government to parry overlapping internal and external threats created an unprecedented patchwork of strategic rivalries and alignments. Large-scale popular unrest in Iraq and Egypt in early 2011, along with the outbreak of full-scale civil war in Syria later that same year, generated an even more intricate web of interstate security dynamics. The reconfigured RSC that emerged out of the “Winter of Arab Discontent” is only beginning to be explicated, and can best be addressed by tracing the connection between domestic political conflicts and shifts in external belligerence and alignment across the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Murhaf Jouejati
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Under the Assad regime, Syria acquired a well-deserved reputation as a repressive mukhabarat state dominated by vast, overlapping internal security agencies that operated with near impunity, reporting directly to the president. Having presided over so much destruction and division, however, it is likely that the Assad regime will eventually be replaced by a government with a better claim to legitimacy. Security sector reform will be a key challenge for establishing the legitimacy of any post-Assad political order, but what would such a system look like and how could it be constructed?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria