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.
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.
Post-Conflict Syrian State and Nation Building: Economic and Political Development Cenap Çakmak Professor of International Law and Politics, Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Turkey
Murat Ustaoğlu Assistant Professor of Economics, Istanbul University, Turkey
1 The Arab Spring and the Emergence of the Syrian Crisis
2 Identity, Political System and the Constitution
3 Restructuring the Syrian Economy
4 Restructuring the Security Sector
5 Transitional Justice After the Civil War
6 Foreign Policy Vision
Conclusion: Findings and Evaluation
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 DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0002
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005
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 DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005
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. DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005
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
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. DOI: 10.1057/9781137538857.0005
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
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.
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.
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?
.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
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.
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.