The absence of an internationally mandated or internally negotiated peace process has allowed the Syrian regime to craft an illiberal peace as an outcome to the nearly decade-long conflict. This illiberal peace is shaped through a politics of exclusion in which Syrian society is bifurcated into the loyal and disloyal through processes of reconciliation, settlement, and new legal regimes of citizenship. These forms of ‘peace’ are productive of new forms of post-conflict citizenship in Syria structured around loyalty to the regime that also serve to punish anyone suspected of betraying ‘the homeland’. The division of society into the loyal and disloyal is being consecrated in new laws and practices that are shaping Syria’s post-conflict trajectory. The prospect of a progressive Syrian future that motivated many of the early protestors has been quelled by the circumscription of political space and the reinvigoration of pre-conflict forms of governance underpinned by violence and exclusion. The emergence of new forms of citizenship shaped by illiberal peace is determining the terrain of politics in Syria today.
Samer Abboud is Associate Professor of Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University. He is the author of Syria (Polity 2018) as well as a number of journal articles and book chapters on Syria. He has published in journals such as Security Dialogue, Citizenship Studies, Middle East Policy, and New Political Science and is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Syrian Studies at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland.