Analysis

Sanctions: The Politics and the Reality

Haid Haid and Lina Khatib speak with Assaad al-Achi, executive director of civil society organization Baytna Syria, about the impact of sanctions on NGOs and ordinary Syrians – and how the regime circumvents them.

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Analysis

Developments in Idlib Demonstrate the Importance of Local Support to Armed Groups

by: Ahmad Abazeid

Despite changes to the factional map of Syria since 2011, armed groups deployed in their local communities have remained the basic unit and the most important factor in military developments in the conflict.

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Analysis

The Regime and Loyal Militias Will Struggle to Disentangle Their Relationship

by: Mazen Ezzi

Over the past six years, the Syrian regime has delegated a large swath of its powers to loyal militias, entrusting them with preserving security, representing the regime and handling the day-to-day affairs of local communities. Today, it seems almost impossible for the state to recover its authority. In addition to the weakness of the Syrian state and its increasing failure to provide key citizen services, militias have gained so much ground that the state cannot restrain them and exert sole control over weapons and violence, even if it wishes to do so.

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External Article

The Role of Jihadi Movements in Syrian Local Governance

by: Omran for Strategic Studies

This study is part of a larger effort to understand the state of governance in all Syrian territories in order to reach a consensus on how to deal with these new circumstances during and after the political transition. This study compares local governance policies of HTS and the opposition Local Councils beginning with a description of how the HTS was formed and its involvement in local governance bodies. Next, this study offers a description of Local Councils that operate in HTS-controlled territories and examines the relationships between the Local Councils and the HTS. This study concludes with a number of recommendations on how to empower Local Councils in areas under HTS control to avoid their cooptation.

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Analysis

The hard choices of internally displaced Syrian rebel fighters

by: Haid Haid

Since the fall of eastern Aleppo last December, the Syrian regime has been able to significantly restore its control over different provinces such as Aleppo, Homs and rural Damascus through a series of forced displacement deals. The agreements allow the regime to restore its symbolic control over rebel-held areas in exchange for ending its military operations and allowing those who do not approve of the deal to leave. While some rebel fighters, as well as civilians, agreed to terminate their anti-regime activities so that they could remain in their homes, other dissidents had no choice but to move to northern Syria. Displaced fighters have had to make tough decisions regarding whether to continue to fight or not, who to fight with, where and against whom.

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Analysis

How Syria’s War Economy Propels the Conflict

by: Lina Sinjab

The dynamics of Syria's war economy mean that any deal on the international table might be hard to implement locally. The conflict has given rise to warlords on both sides of the conflict, who benefit personally from the status quo and provide important sources of funding to their backers. It is hard to see how they will give up the benefits they have acquired. Indeed, almost every detail in the war is being squeezed for profit.

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Analysis

How the Syrian Regime Is Using the Mask of ‘Reconciliation’ to Destroy Opposition Institutions

by: Mazen Ezzi

As the Syrian regime and its allies have regained control of opposition areas in the Damascus countryside (Rif Dimashq), they have used two separate tactics to try to eliminate pockets of resistance. One is forced displacement of the entire population, which has occurred in areas such as Daraya and Zabadani. The other is the misleadingly named ‘comprehensive reconciliation’ – in reality, a combination of coercion and enticement aimed at replacing administrative bodies set up by the opposition with local authorities loyal to the regime.

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Analysis

Why the liberation of Raqqa will not bring stability to Syria

by: Lina Khatib

The battle to liberate Raqqa from ISIS has started and reports of areas that are being taken back from the terrorist organization are already emerging. The United States and its allies are presenting the campaign in positive terms, saying that stripping the so-called ‘caliphate’ from its capital will be a significant blow to ISIS. But the liberation of Raqqa faces a number of significant challenges that the international anti-ISIS coalition needs to pay attention to, lest the gains from the campaign be overshadowed by a new wave of tension.

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Research Paper

Local Community Resistance to Extremist Groups in Syria: Lessons from Atarib

by: Haid Haid

A sole focus on defeating ISIS in Syria militarily will likely further enable al-Nusra, which has been able to exploit the power vacuum where its rival has collapsed.

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External Article

Social Degradation in Syria 2017

by: Syrian Center for Policy Research

The Syrian Center for Policy Research has published a detailed, field-based report on the impact of the armed conflict in Syria on social relations. It uses the concept of social capital as an approach to analyzing trust, cooperation, and shared values in different regions in Syria over time, and proposes alternative policies to overcome the catastrophic social impact of the conflict.

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