The pre-peace, post-conflict reconstruction of Syria

By Samer Abboud
Submitted to Session P4798 (Rethinking Security Studies in the Arab World: In/Security Beyond the State, 2017 Annual Meeting
Intl Rltns/Aff
As the Syrian conflict approaches its sixth year, there are seemingly few prospects for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Tripartite talks between Russia, Iran, and Turkey have yielded few political gains and the violence inside the country persists, as rival armed groups continue to vie for territory and the spoils of war. Despite the continued violence, there has been no shortage of reconstruction plans put forth for Syria. Many of these plans originate from think tanks and international organizations and reflect a particular worldview of how Syria should (or should not) be integrated into regional and global security architectures. These plans suggest a centrality to a global security imperative – that is, securing Syria so that the country no longer produces global threats.

With this in mind, I ask how emergent reconstruction designs for Syria prefigure a particular geopolitics: How does the pre-peace, post-war reconstruction plans for Syria prefigure the country as a regional and global threat? To address this question, my paper will begin by surveying and analyzing a range of primary material in the form of reconstruction plans advanced since 2011, from diverse actors such as the American Security Project (ASP) and the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA). In highlighting the security discourses that saturate these plans, I will answer the question of how a post-conflict Syria is imagined as a source of global insecurity. The secondary material this paper will draw on is centered around critical approaches to post-conflict reconstruction. In particular, I am interested in how this literature engages with key security questions, such as Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR) practices that have been employed in other post-conflict cases.