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Post conflict syrian state and nation building economic and political development


Research team
Supervisors: Dr Atilla Sandıklı, Dr Cenap Çakmak, Dr Salih Akyürek
Advisors: Dr Hasret Çomak, Dr Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney, Dr Oktay Alnıak
Staff: Dr Murat Ustaoğlu, Dr Kürşad Aslan, Dr Emine Akçadağ, Dr Bekir Ünal

Authors’ previous books
Çakmak, C., “Amerikan Dış Politikası ve ABD-Çin İlişkilerinde Pragmatizm ve Rasyonalite”,
in Geleceğin Süper Gücü Çin: Uzakdoğu’daki Entegrasyonlar ve Şangay İşbirliği Örgütü, edi.
Sandıklı, A. and Güllü, İ., 103–137, TASAM Yayınları, İstanbul, 2005.
Çakmak, C., “Irak Savaşı ve Büyük Ortadoğu Projesi”, in Büyük Ortadoğu Projesi: Yeni
Oluşumlar ve Değişen Dengeler, edi. Sandıklı, A. and Dağcı, K., 151–174, TASAM Yayınları,
İstanbul, 2006.
Çakmak, C., “ABD ve Nükleer İran Krizi: Sorun ne ve nereye gidiyor?”, in Satranç Tahtasında
İran: Nükleer Program, edi. Dağcı, K. and Sandıklı, A., 99–125, TASAM Yayınları, İstanbul,
2007.
Çakmak, C., “Iran-Uluslararası Atom Enerjisi Kurumu (UAEK) İlişkileri”, in Satranç
Tahtasında İran: Nükleer Program, edi. Dağcı, K. and Sandıklı, A., 297–323, TASAM Yayınları,
İstanbul, 2007.
Çakmak, C., “Human Rights, the European Union and Turkey”, in Rethinking EU Turkey
Relations, edi. Dağcı, K. and Dağcı, G. T., 111–134, MV WISSENSCHAFT, Münster, 2007.

Çakmak, C., Transnational Activism in World Politics and Effectiveness of Loosely Organized
Principled Global Network, VDM Publishing, Munchen, 2008.
Çakmak, C., “Simon Bolivar”, in Encyclopedia of the Age of Political Revolutions, edi. Bayes, G.
F., Greenwood Press, New York, 2008.
Çakmak, C., “International Law”, in Encyclopedia of Cold War, Routledge, New York, 2008.
Çakmak, C., “Role of the Women’s Groups in the Rome Conference”, in Crimes Against
Women, edi. Pike, D., Nova Publishers, New York, 2010.
Çakmak, C., “Male Circumcision and Religious Violence”, in Encyclopedia of Religion and
Violence, edi. Ross, J., M. E. Sharpe, New York, 2010.
Çakmak, C., “Is There an Armenian Genocide?”, in Popular Controversies in World History,
edi. Danver, S., ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, New York, 2010.
Çakmak, C., “Discussing Ancient Greek Polis as Forerunner of Democratic Government”,
in Popular Controversies in World History, edi. Danver, S., ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, New York,
2010.
Çakmak, C., “İsrail saldırıları ve uluslararası hukukun imkanları”, in Ortadoğu Yıllığı: ,
edi. İnat, K., Ataman, M. and Çakmak, C., Küre Yayınları, İstanbul, 2010.
Çakmak, C., “İran 2010”, in Ortadoğu Yıllığı: , edi. İnat, K. and Ataman, M., Küre
Yayınları, İstanbul, 2011.
Çakmak, C., “Yeni diplomasi, kompleks küresel yönetişim ve süpergüçle dans: ABD, sivil
toplumun artan rolü ve Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi”, in Kamu Diplomasisi, edi. Özkan, A.,
TASAM Yayınları, İstanbul, 2011.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0001


Çakmak, C., “Neden Dış Politika? Neden Amerikan Dış Politikası?”, in Yakın Dönem
Amerikan Dış Politikası: Teori ve Pratik, edi. Çakmak C., Dinç, C. and Öztürk, A., Nobel,
Ankara, 2011.
Çakmak, C., Uluslararası Hukuk Ders Kitabı, Ekin, Bursa, 2014.
Çakmak, C., . Yüzyılda Soykırım ve Etnik Temizlik, Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, İstanbul,
2014.
Çakmak, C., Suriye’nin Yeniden Yapılandırılması, BİLGESAM Yayınları, İstanbul, 2014.
Çakmak, C., Dinç, C. and Öztürk, A., Yakın Dönem Amerikan Dış Politikası: Teori ve Pratik,
Nobel, Ankara, 2011.
Çakmak, C. and Doğan, N. Birleşmiş Milletler: BM Sistemi ve Reformu, Siyasal, Ankara, 2014.
Çakmak, C., Doğan, N. and Öztürk, A., Uluslararası İlişkilerde Güncel Sorunlar ve Türkiye,
Seçkin, Ankara, 2012.
Çakmak, C., İnat, K. and Ataman, M., Ortadoğu Yıllığı: 2009, Küre Yayınları, İstanbul, 2010.
Çakmak, C. and Öztürk A., “Türk Dış Politikası ve uluslararası hukuk: Türkiye-UCM
ilişkileri bağlamında bir değerlendirme”, in . Yüzyılda Çağdaş Türk Dış Politikası ve


Diplomasisi, edi. Çomak, H., Umuttepe Yayınları, Kocaeli, 2010.
Çakmak, C. and Öztürk, A., “Jeopolitik, Soğuk Savaş sonrası Avrasya ve Uluslararası İlişkiler
Teorileri”, in Dünya Jeopolitiğinde Türkiye, edi. Çomak, H., Hiperlink, İstanbul, 2011.
Çakmak, C. and ve A. Uysal, “Ürdün 2009”, in Ortadoğu Yıllığı: , edi. İnat, K., Ataman,
M. and Çakmak, C., Küre Yayınları, İstanbul, 2010.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Restructuring the Syrian Economy: Insights on the Post-Conflict Period”, in
Reconstruction of The Syria, edi. Sandıklı, A. and Çakmak, C., Bilgesam Yayınları, İstanbul,
Turkey, 2014.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Suriye ekonomisinin yeniden yapılandırılması”, in Suriye’nin Yeniden
Yapılandırılması, edi. Sandıklı, A. and Çakmak, C., Bilgesam Yayınları, İstanbul, Turkey, 2014.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Analysis of Economic Growth and Financial Structure of Participation Banks
in Turkey”, in Islamic Finance Development and Economic Growth, edi. Echchabi, A., Effat
University Press, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2015.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Alms”, in Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia, edi. Çakmak, C., ABC-CLIO/
Greenwood, New York, 2015.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Extravagance”, in Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia, edi. Çakmak, C., ABCCLIO/Greenwood, New York, 2015.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Islamic Economics”, in Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia, edi. Çakmak, C.,
ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, New York, 2015.
Ustaoğlu, M., “Islamic Development Bank”, in Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia, edi. Çakmak,
C., ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, New York, 2015.
Ustaoğlu, M. and İncekara, A., Islamic Finance Alternatives for Emerging Economies, Palgrave
Macmillan, New York, USA, 2014.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0001


Post-Conflict Syrian
State and Nation
Building: Economic and
Political Development
Cenap Çakmak
Professor of International Law and Politics,
Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Turkey

and

Murat Ustaoğlu
Assistant Professor of Economics,
Istanbul University, Turkey

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0001


post-conflict syrian state and nation building
Selection and arrangement © Cenap Çakmak and Murat Ustaoğlu, 2015.
Original content © Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies (BİLGESAM), 2014.
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2015 978-1-137-53884-0
All rights reserved.
First published in 2015 by
PALGRAVE MACMILLAN®
in the United States—a division of St. Martin’s Press LLC,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Where this book is distributed in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world,
this is by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited,
registered in England, company number 785998, of Houndmills,
Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS.
Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies
and has companies and representatives throughout the world.
Palgrave® and Macmillan® are registered trademarks in the United States,
the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries.
ISBN:978-1-137-53885-7 PDF
ISBN:978-1-349-71163-5
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available from
the Library of Congress.
A catalogue record of the book is available from the British Library.
First edition: 2015
www.palgrave.com/pivot
DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857


Dedicated to Omar and Marwah’s little AWAD

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Contents

vi

Preface

vii

Acknowledgments

ix

About the Authors

x

Introduction

1

1 The Arab Spring and the Emergence of the
Syrian Crisis

17

2 Identity, Political System and the
Constitution

23

3 Restructuring the Syrian Economy

43

4 Restructuring the Security Sector

68

5 Transitional Justice After the Civil War

78

6 Foreign Policy Vision

91

Conclusion: Findings and Evaluation

98

References

104

Index

110

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Preface
The popular movements that started in the Middle East
in 2011 led to change of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya
and Yemen; however, the popular uprisings in Syria have
not yet brought about a similar change but instead led
to a bloody conflict which later turned into a civil war.
The impacts of this crisis were not limited to Syria; the
crisis also had serious global and regional implications as
well. The urgency of ending this destructive and bloody
conflict is obvious for the reason that the crisis turned
into a humanitarian tragedy; however, how the state and
nation will be built and constructed in the aftermath of
this conflict is also a crucial question. There are ongoing
problems stemming from the improper construction and
definition of the state and national identity given that it
is unable to address popular demands; the current crisis
in Syria confirms that this may lead to serious problems
including civil war. For this reason, how the state and
nation should be constructed remains a crucial matter to
avoid similar structural flaws in the future as well.
To this end, the Wise Men Center for Strategic Research
(BİLGESAM) in Istanbul initiated research to investigate
the political, economic and military shape of Syria in the
aftermath of the conflict and to discuss possible alternatives for a viable definition of national identity and state
structure. The research was generously supported by the
International Civil Society Support and Development
Association (STD). Based on the findings of this research,
a report on how a national and state identity could
be constructed once the civil war is over in Syria was
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vii


viii

Preface

previously submitted to offer a plausible roadmap for nation and state
building in this country. The report includes policy recommendations
for the relevant parties.
As part of the implementation of the research, workshops were held
with the participation of leading figures of the Syrian opposition as well
as academics and researchers specializing in Syrian affairs. The findings
from the workshops were analyzed to reach plausible conclusions that
would serve as basis of policy recommendations. In addition, in-depth
interviews were held with the lead names of the Syrian opposition and
Syrian and Turkish academics.
The opposition leaders and figures stated their objection to the possible
participation of representatives of the Syrian regime in the workshops;
for this reason, no regime representative took part in the research efforts
and works. As a result, the Syrian opposition groups were taken as the
only focus groups in the researches.
This book, based on the analysis of the findings in the workshops
and interviews, focuses on several issues pertaining to nation and state
building in post-conflict Syria including national identity, political
regime and separation of powers, making of the constitution, economic
reforms, restructuring the security sector, transitional justice and foreign
policy vision. The study considered the realities of Syria but also referred
to international customs and legal rules whenever they were applicable.

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Acknowledgments
We appreciate the financial support by the funders for the
conduct of research as part of the research. We also recognize the contribution of BILGESAM and Istanbul University
Scientific Research Projects Department and the indispensable
contributions by the Syrian opposition figures to the discussions and deliberations.

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ix


About the Authors
Cenap Çakmak is Professor of International Law and Politics
in the Department of International Relations at the Eskisehir
Osmangazi University. Çakmak holds a PhD in Global Affairs
from the Rutgers University, and does research mainly on international criminal law and Turkish foreign policy. Previously
a visiting researcher at the TMC Asser Institute, The Hague,
Çakmak currently conducts a project on the role of the ICC
in redefinition of world politics at the Max Planck Institute for
Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, as
a visiting scholar. Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia, a reference work he is editing, will be published in late 2015.
Murat Ustaoğlu is Assistant Professor of Economics in
the Department of Economics at the Istanbul University.
He was born in Bartın, Turkey and educated in the United
States with BA and MA degrees in International Business
at the Ramapo College of New Jersey and Economics at
City University of New York respectively. Ustaoğlu holds
a PhD in Economics from the Istanbul University. He
has taught various topics in economics at the Istanbul
University and most recently is the co-author of Islamic
Finance Alternatives for Emerging Economies (2014), and
many research articles about international economics,
finance and Islamic finance. He is also the editor of various journals.

x

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Introduction
Abstract: The so-called Arab Spring process which led to
dramatic changes in some Middle Eastern countries also
affected Syria. The people rose up in demand of further
democratic rights and recognition of their fundamental
rights. However, the uprising soon turned into a violent
confrontation between the Assad regime and the peaceful
protestors. The government, failing to respond to the popular
demands, relied on brutal measures whereas the opposition
groups also formed organized armed units. The situation was
then transformed into an internal armed conflict which can
also be characterized as a civil war.
Çakmak, Cenap and Murat Ustaoğlu. Post-Conflict
Syrian State and Nation Building: Economic and Political
Development. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
doi: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005.

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Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

Research scope
Conflict in Syria: current turmoil and chaos
The popular uprisings in the Arab world against repressive regimes
since 2011 have been exemplified in and/or exerted influence on Tunisia,
Egypt, Libya and then Syria. This so-called Arab Spring process was
understood as a great opportunity by the mass of Arab citizens to express
their opposition to brutal regimes.1 The reactions and protests in Syria
that began after the arrest and subsequent torture of a boy grew further
when the boy was not released. It should be noted that the protests were
unplanned and spontaneous for the most part.
It is difficult to argue that the protestors had certain demands in the
initial stages of the opposition and reaction. Although it is possible to
find some generic demands regarding fundamental rights and freedoms,
the lack of systematic demands and a well-defined political stance to
satisfy these demands should be noted. As might be expected, the Assad
regime did not make reasonable accommodations for these unplanned
and unorganized reactions. Instead, the regime opted to use brutality to
address this problem, mostly due to the fear that the sentiments of the
Arab Spring would spread to the region.
However, the protestors did not retreat; instead, they expressed their
demands more loudly. Contrary to the expectations of the regime, the
people voiced their demands more systematically and decisively. They
now placed greater emphasis on the details of their demands, including
the need for political reform. The Assad regime responded violently to
the demands for reform. To clarify, it should be noted that there was no
organized opposition at this stage that was asking for the resignation of
the Assad regime. The only thing they asked for was political reform. In
other words, the initial demands of the protestors were not so comprehensive to demand a revolution.
At this stage, Turkey’s stance regarding the demonstrations was
moderate, ethical and principled. Turkey noted that the Assad regime
must respond to popular demands positively and thus acted on a normative basis. During this period, Turkey’s Syria policy overlapped with the
approach of the US and other Western states. As opposed to its response
to the uprisings in Egypt and Libya, Turkey adopted a more decisive
and pre-emptive stance regarding the popular movements in Syria; in
its foreign policy during this period Turkey was visibly consistent and
ethically considerate.
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Introduction



However, the Assad regime did not respond to the calls from Turkey
and other international actors and instead escalated its violence against
the protestors. However, the protestors did not back down. It should be
underlined that the street protests at this stage were the main form of
demonstration by the opposition and that the protestors were unarmed.
Therefore, what occurred in Syria was that unarmed protestors took to
the streets demanding freedom and reform, and the regime responded to
these demands and protests with violence. Turkey’s stance vis-à-vis this
brutality was simply ethical and cannot be considered as intervention in
domestic affairs.
In response to the growing brutality of the Assad regime, Turkey
and the international community clarified their position and urged
the Assad regime to introduce reforms. It should be recalled that at
this stage, Turkey did not seek the removal of Assad from power. The
international community asked Assad to introduce reforms rather than
to abdicate. It should also be recalled that comprehensive talks were
held with Assad to discuss these matters. In these talks, Turkey stressed
the initiation of a reform process that would address the demands of
the people. Therefore, Turkey’s policy on Syria in this period was both
consistent and ethical.
However, the Assad regime failed to respond to these calls more
strongly and adopted a harsher approach with the opposition groups.
Despite these harsh measures, Turkey continued to ask the Assad regime
to consider introducing political reforms as an option. It might be argued
that Turkey was tolerant and lenient during this period. However, the
US concluded that the Assad regime had no intention of introducing
reforms and began to stress that Assad and his regime must leave. Turkey
followed suit shortly thereafter. Turkey urged the Assad regime to step
down after concluding that the regime had no intention whatsoever of
addressing the demands of the people.
This conclusion was not based on subjective considerations. Reports
by independent human rights groups and by the UN Human Rights
Council confirm that the Assad regime committed heinous crimes
including crimes against humanity, which means that there was documented brutality and a campaign of massacres initiated by the regime;
in addition, the documentation also indicated that the regime had
no intention of giving up on this campaign any time soon. Turkey’s
response remained principled and consistent. Because asking Assad to
step down required an alternative, Turkey made efforts to ensure that
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Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

an opposition would emerge. To this end, it tried to create an international front against the Assad regime and united certain opposition
groups.
After the emergence of the opposition groups and their consolidation,
the crisis evolved into a civil war because armed confrontation began to
ensue. This moment was an important turning point in terms of adopting a political stance. In a civil war, there are two parties that can be
classified into the same category – even if they were not similarly strong
and powerful – which led to the creation of an entire new reality in the
country. Both parties had obligations; and the Assad regime actually
appeared more legitimate during this period because it was fighting
against an armed opposition. In addition, the Assad regime relied on
growing violence and brutality. However, reliable reports and sources
also confirm that some in the opposition groups also committed war
crimes.
Currently, there are two major reasons that make the entire situation
even more complicated. First, the opposition groups are now relying on
violence that would almost justify terrorism claims. These reactions –
which were responses to the harsh measures undertaken by the Assad
regime – have become ethically unjustifiable. The images of regime
soldiers executed by extremist groups who have aligned themselves with
the opposition, the sectarian divide and other unethical factors undermine the normative basis of the opposition groups’ struggle. In such an
environment, Turkey faces greater difficulties in extending its strong
support for the Syrian opposition because the growing involvement of
extremist groups in violent measures has put Turkey in a delicate position both domestically and internationally. The open acknowledgement
that the ongoing conflict reflects a sectarian divide is another major
problem for Turkey.
Second, the conflict in Syria has become a full-fledged civil war.
Naming the conflict a civil war may seem a political preference, but
under international law, it matters whether a conflict is a civil war.
Although there is no central authority empowered to make this decision,
both the UN and the Red Cross view the Syrian conflict as a civil war,
which indicates that the ongoing disagreement is an armed conflict of
non-international character in which relevant provisions of the law of
armed conflict apply. In other words, there are at least two major parties
that have a responsibility to observe the rules and guidelines of international humanitarian law in the conflict.
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Introduction



State building in post-conflict Syria
Determining how to rebuild the state in the aftermath of the conflict is
another important issue. It may be argued that the current problem actually stems from the failure to design the state in consideration of popular
demands in the first place.2 In other words, the current structure of the
Syrian state is the root cause of the ongoing conflict that has resulted
in the people rioting against the Assad regime. There is no significant
reason for an armed conflict in a state structure in which there is political stability and social groups express their consent.3 Regardless of the
reasons and motivations, the expression of popular discontent – whether
by peaceful or violent means – reflects a serious problem in the construction of the state.4
From this perspective, putting an end to the ongoing civil war in
Syria is important, of course, but it is also crucial to determine how
the state would be reconstructed after the conflict to avoid similar
atrocities and warfare in the future. In other words, although the end
of the conflict would bring about relative peace and stability, lack of
attention to the manner in which the state is constructed following
the conflict would lead to graver problems in the years to come.5 To
this end, the situation in the countries experiencing the Arab Spring
process is illustrative. The collapse of totalitarian regimes that were
sources of instability and discontent and the establishment of democratic regimes in their place raised the hopes of the people.6 However,
serious disagreements and instabilities emerged shortly after regime
change, which shows that establishing a democratic regime is not
a sufficient solution. Thus, establishing a regime and system that
responds to popular demands and considers the demands and
priorities of various social groups in the reconstruction of the state is
important to achieving a state structure that is stable and sustainable.
Simply put, construction of the state as durable to the probable threats
should be a priority. The new state structure should satisfy its citizens,
in addition to regional and global actors as well, which means that
many variables must be considered.
One of these crucial variables is identifying the statuses of the different religious, ethnic and sectarian groups according to their requests and
political priorities. However, it would not be incorrect to argue that Syria
is simply prone to instability as a country. The diverse nature of its society and the lack of representation of these groups in state administration

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Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

seem to be a major problem in this country. In addition to diverse
ethnic groups including Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Armenians, religious groups including Muslims, the Druze and Christians have their
own agendas. Moreover, the presence of the Nusayri minority and the
Sunni majority is a fact that must be considered. However, the Sunni
majority is not monolithic. Political Islamist groups such as the Muslim
Brotherhood in addition to Salafi groups are inalienable elements of the
conflict in Syria. It is really difficult and challenging to create a nation
given these diversities and divisions. What must be done is to ensure
that these diverse groups join the process of state and nation building in
the aftermath of the conflict.
Another crucial variable that must be considered is the constitutional
identity of the state, which is actually closely related to the variable
discussed immediately above. The definition of the state in the constitution will reflect the outcome of the conflict and the priorities and demands
of the social groups in Syria. Should the new state be constructed as a
federal state? If so, how will the powers of the federated units be defined?
In other words, will Syria become a new Lebanon? Assuming there is
a unitary state, how will issues related to the distribution of powers be
overcome? And most importantly, what will happen to the Baath Party?
What will be the position of the Muslim Brotherhood – the largest
organized opposition group – in the new distribution of powers? The
answers to these questions will provide insights into the identity of Syria
as a state in the aftermath of the conflict.
Another important issue regarding the identity of the state is to
establish a democratic regime in Syria.7 The main driving motivation in
the Arab Spring has been the establishment of democratic systems and
administrations. Thus, although some marginal groups rely on nondemocratic means, the majority of the opposition groups in Syria are
asking for (or demanding) democratic rights and freedoms. However,
if the goal is to establish democracy, it must be acknowledged that
there are diverse views regarding how democracy is established and
what type of democracy is created. Some of the warring parties favor
a system in which Islam would serve as the source of law, whereas
other groups do not favor this option. Likewise, defining the scope of
the electoral system and identifying the electoral districts pose serious challenges in terms of stability. Whether every group should be
reserved a certain number of seats at the parliament is another question that must be addressed.
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Introduction



Economic and military structure after conflict
A conflict that leaves thousands of dead behind will inevitably be
destructive. Economic activities are limited in a devastated economy. A
requirement for establishing a democratic and political stability in the
aftermath of such a devastating conflict is to create a strong economic
structure.8 Unlike Libya, Syria does not have rich oil resources and will
thus need visible support for survival and economic development.
How the army will be redefined and on what basis it will be recreated is another major problem. Even if the regular army is preserved,
the integration of the Free Syrian Army and the disarmament of the
armed militia groups will remain huge problems in post-conflict Syria.
Likewise, whether Hezbollah militants will consent to leave the country
and war against terrorist groups is yet another point to underline.

Legal structure and judiciary in post-conflict Syria
How the judicial and legal structure will be redefined in post-conflict
Syria is a secondary interest of the research. Details are not included
in the research on this matter because the participants will have little
knowledge of legal matters. However, the process of making a new
constitution is thought to be a crucial matter because it is intimately
connected with state- and nation-building processes. The scope and
content of the constitution, in addition to how it should be designed, is
discussed within the research and the views of the opposition groups were
included in the research works. In addition to constitutional debates, the
crimes committed by the regime in Syria are also analyzed. To this end,
how political crimes are defined and how they will be included in the
criminal code is evaluated.

Pursuit of justice after conflict
How peace will be attained and how justice will be delivered following
such a destructive war such as the civil war in Syria is a crucial matter.
The measures to be taken to address the commission of grave crimes
during the conflict are analyzed based on the views and responses by
opposition figures. The goal here is to ensure social stability assuming
that the entire society will be affected by the consequences of war. How
this trauma will be addressed when facing calls to exact revenge and to
redress the destruction caused by the war is discussed by the opposition

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Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

figures. Although the opposition groups hold diverse views on this
matter, a certain framework of common ground is also formulated.
To this end, the options presented by international law are elaborated
upon and how the opposition groups might approach these options is
analyzed. The research also seeks to understand how opposition groups
view the transitional justice mechanisms.

Foreign policy in post-conflict Syria
The views and positions of the opposition groups regarding the foreign
policy identity the Syrian state should develop in the aftermath of the civil
war are evaluated to offer a working framework of the probable foreign
policy positions of the new Syrian state. Its relations with its neighbors,
particularly Turkey, are analyzed and Syria’s interaction with global and
regional actors is also reviewed. At present, Syria pays little attention to
multilateral organizations and mechanisms, and whether post-civil war
Syria will change this attitude in the aftermath of the conflict is investigated further. The positions of various opposition groups on this matter
are also discussed.

Research purpose
This research basically investigates the options for reconstructing Syria
in the aftermath of the ongoing civil war. Although this war has caused
many uncertainties, analyzing the options that may emerge after the
conflict matters for the future of Syria as well as for Turkish foreign
policy. This study evaluates the options for how to reconstruct Syria after
the conflict and makes several recommendations based on certain legal
and political insights. The current status of the ongoing conflict with
respect to international politics and international law is analyzed in the
research, and the relations of the clashing groups with the international
actors are discussed. The research further focuses on how the Syrian state
will be politically redefined in the aftermath of the conflict and reviews
the potential roles that certain actors might play in the process of state
reconstruction. The priorities and demands of these groups are analyzed
to better understand what type of state they seek to create and how they
would distribute state powers among different social groups.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005


Introduction



The economy is an important dimension of reconstructing Syria. For
this reason, the role of economy is also emphasized in the research. How
the overall national economy will be designed in the new era is analyzed
in the study, which also pays attention to the military design. How the
army will be redefined is a crucial question for the sustainability of the
state structure.
The research mainly focuses on how to reconstruct Syria after its civil
war is ended. The main problem addressed in the research is to investigate
how a lasting and stable political order might be established. The point
of departure in this endeavor is the conviction that the current order in
Syria fails to create a stable environment for its people.9 Independent of
prejudice and judgment, this environment is based on the destructive
nature of the ongoing civil war. Therefore, the real problem is how lasting
stability might be attained in Syria instead of simply ending the current
conflict. Of course, ending the ongoing bloodshed is also important; but
what should be underlined is how the state would be reconstructed in
the post-conflict period. This question must be taken into account to
prevent future instabilities. The Treaty of Versailles ended the First World
War but also served as the genesis of the Second World War because
of its unfair and unrealistic provisions and settlements. The Treaty of
Versailles failed to address the realities on the ground and thus failed to
generate stability and lasting peace. Likewise, the success of the Dayton
Accords that ended the conflict in Bosnia is also debatable. Thus, how
the state is redefined upon resolution of conflict matters. This research
seeks to shed light on the process of state reconstruction in Syria.

Research goals
The main goal of the research is to discuss the future shape of the Syrian
state in the aftermath of the civil war in political, economic and military terms and to make recommendations on this matter. Post-conflict
periods are generally fragile and subject to grave disagreements. For this
reason, attaining a common framework that would serve as a basis for
reconciling the requests and priorities of opposition groups is crucial for
lasting stability in the country. What has been occurring in Afghanistan
and Libya may be understood as the repercussions of the lack of such a
roadmap after the end of conflict in those countries.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005




Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

It is not possible to say at this moment that the regime and the opposition groups have a clear framework regarding the type of Syria they wish
to pursue after the conflict. Therefore, it is also difficult to argue that those
who would establish the future Syria have a vision regarding this subject.
Even in the event of regime collapse, Syria may well have to address
further instability, which might lead to further disagreements and disputes.
Another problem is the possibility that foreign actors may take the lead in
reconstructing the Syrian state. A Syria facing unrealistic solutions dictated
to it by outsiders may not meet the demands of the Syrian people.
Therefore, the research will attempt to offer a roadmap for the future.
This roadmap will be based on the views of diverse opposition groups.
Realities on the ground will be considered, but universal standards and
historical experience will also be included in the analysis to achieve a
working framework. The recommendations based on the findings of the
research will be communicated to decision makers for their consideration.
Leading figures in Syrian opposition groups are included in the research,
which is based primarily on workshops and elite-level interviews.

Research methodology
The methodology in the research is to identify findings based on workshops that involve the participation of leading figures of various opposition groups and academics known for their expertise on Syrian affairs
and politics. As part of the research, leading opposition figures have
participated in the workshops to express their views and opinions on
the matters discussed above. Only Syrian opposition groups were invited
to the workshops because regime representatives were not welcomed
by the opposition. In-depth interviews were also conducted with the
opposition figures and the findings from the workshops and interviews
were analyzed and evaluated in light of the literature on nation building,
democratization and social movements as well.
The following questions were asked of the participants in the
workshops:

Syria’s reconstruction focus group questions
.a From your perspective, what are the most important components
in creating a Syrian common identity in the future? Why?

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005


Introduction



.b Regarding the previous question, what are the potential fault lines
in the creation of common Syrian identity in the future? Why?
 From your perspective, how should the new Syrian regime be
designed in terms of the following:
 Regime type (parliamentary, presidential, kingdom, etc.)
 State–Religion interaction
 Distribution of power: unitary, federal, confederal
 Branches of Government: Legislative, Executive, Judiciary
 Bureaucracy: National Education, Health, Courts
.a From your perspective, how should the new Syria design its
security and defense structure?
 Military
 Police
 Intelligence
.b What do you think about the process of drafting a constitution?
 Committee members and their selection process
 Representation (city-based, region-based, tribal, sectarian?)
 Elite-led or popular?
 What should be the new government’s role in:
 Economic life (socialist, free market or in-between (such as
Norway/Sweden))
 Social life
 Provision of basic services and assistance to poor, disabled, and
orphaned.
 What should be the role (if any) of the following external actors in
the construction of the new Syria?
 UN, UNDP
 IMF, World Bank
 EU, USA, Russia, China, India
 Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran
 If you were given the task of designing an effective conflict
transformation plan in Syria, what would be its most important
tactics, tools (truth, trials or amnesia), actors and factors?
 It is generally acknowledged that the critical mistake made by
the Egyptian Brotherhood during their 2012–2013 reign was the
inability or reluctance of the Morsi government to include large
social groups in political processes. What do you think about this?
Do you think that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood might be able to
listen to all Syrians and to reach their hearts and minds?
DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005




Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building

 According to a well-known journal article, three potential failings
in state building are the following:
 the likelihood of having a violent armed rebellion if the new
state excludes large portions of the population on the basis of
ethnicity;
 the likelihood of having violent clashes if a large number of
competing elites share power in a segmented state; and
 the likelihood of having violent conflicts if the new state is
built upon an incohesive state apparatus with a short history of
democratic rule.
 As it has been experienced in post-2005 Iraq, on the one hand, the
new state believes that it must accumulate power at the center; on
the other hand, Sunnis and Kurds are not happy with this trend.
The need for a strong state at the early stage of state building and
people’s fear of a strong state leads to a paradox. How should this
paradox be overcome in Syria?
 From your perspective, how should the new Syria design its
security and defense bureaucracy?
 Military
 Police
 Intelligence
 How should the new political system distribute power among the
following branches:
 Executive
 Legislative
 Judiciary
 Do you believe that it is possible to establish independent courts
and fair judges in the Syrian judicial system?
 What should be the government’s role in:
 Economic life (socialist, free market or in-between (like Norway
and Sweden))
 Social life
 Religious affairs
 Provision of basic services and assistance to poor, disabled, and
orphaned citizens.
 What should be the role (if any) of external actors in the
construction of Syria’s future?
 UN, UNDP
 IMF, World Bank
DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005


Introduction



EU, USA, Russia, China, India
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran
 Nation building
Almost 60 per cent of Syrians live in urban centers and major cities,
such as Aleppo (approx. 3 million), Damascus (approx. 2.5 million),
Hums (approx. 1.3 million) and Hama (approx. 1 million). This
relatively high rate of urbanization may make nation building easier
in comparison with rural countries such as Afghanistan.
 Who will be in charge of building the Syrian nation? Will this
building be state-led, elite-led or popularly led?
 Who is going to be called Syrian? Muslims, Christians,
Turkmens, Alawites, Kurds, etc.?
 What will be the definition of the Syrian citizen? By birth in
Syria, Syrian mother and/or father . . .
 In general what do you think about these matters?



Some methodological reminders: what is qualitative research?












Any research design means the choice between qualitative and
quantitative research.
Qualitative research does not necessarily exclude quantitative
research.
The two types of research may be understood as complementary
research endeavors depending on different research and issue areas
and depending on the researcher’s needs.
Based on the core purpose of the research, however, either the
qualitative or quantitative approach might be more appropriate
than the other.
Qualitative analysis is more appropriate for our Syria research.
The purpose in qualitative studies is not to make generalizing
conclusions with statistical support from the broader populations.
Instead, qualitative research aims at building insights into
particular observations from which one can construct a general
understanding.
Researchers in a qualitative study do not aim to reach external
generalizability; instead, they prefer to take purposive samples
rather than probability samples, particularly because of the rapidly
evolving nature of social dynamics and concepts in transitioning
societies.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005


Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building






A World Bank study highlights that qualitative research is
more appropriate in transition societies in which the rapidity of
change and the dearth of information may push researchers to
find out new approaches through in-depth exploratory research.
Qualitative research has many advantages over its quantitative
counterpart in transitioning societies: it enables an understanding
of local idiosyncrasies and sociological institutions, such as
commonly shared perceptions and practices, social values
and expectations, a division of social roles among members of
society and family, and/or the functioning of social networks.
Without understanding these features, it is difficult to design
sensible national policies, particularly those regarding economic
development.
Qualitative research in transitioning societies has an advantage in
that usual classifications may not be appropriate in some situations,
and existing concepts and definitions may be insufficient to reveal
social reality.

Some notes about focus groups











A focus group is a small group of six to ten people led in an open
discussion by a skilled moderator. The group must be large enough
to generate rich discussion but not so large that some participants
are left out.
The focus group moderator’s goal is to generate the maximum
number of different ideas and opinions from as many different
people in the time allotted.
The ideal amount of time to set aside for a focus group is 75–90
minutes.
Focus groups are structured around a set of carefully
predetermined questions – typically not more than ten – but the
discussion is free-flowing.
Ideally, participant comments will stimulate and influence the
thinking and sharing of others. Some participants even find
themselves changing their ideas and opinions during the group.
A focus group is not a debate, not group therapy, not a conflict
resolution or problem-solving session, not an opportunity
to collaborate, not a promotional opportunity, and not an
educational session.

DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005


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