The Kurds in Syria – State-Building, New Model and War

This article focuses on state-building in Syria’s Kurdish area, i.e. the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, also locally called Rojava, and potential impacts. Indeed, we saw previously that the Kurds’ capacity to build a viable polity in Northern Syria was one crucial element for evaluating not only the outcome of the battle of Raqqa against the Islamic State, but also the way Turkey could become further and more intensely embroiled in the conflict (see Helene Lavoix, “The Battle of Raqqa, the Kurds and Turkey“,  The Red (Team) Analysis Society, 2 May 2017). Extreme cases scenarios ☔  Scenario War with Turkey escalates ⛵ Directly Impacted Actors: All Eurasian + Middle East states, U.S. (military, diplo); NGOs (for Syria/Iraq/Turkey); Businesses in Turkey, Trade & exchanges with Turkey; Airlines; Maritime activities; Religious institutions… ⛅ Scenario Kurdish […]

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Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenarios 1 (5) – A Libyan-Mediated Peace?

After evaluating scenarios involving failed peace negotiations, we shall conclude scenario 1, exploring paths towards a mediated peace, by evaluating sub-scenario 1.3 in this article – a scenario where peace negotiations, without an external mediator, lead to a signed peace treaty and transitional government. Our focus here will be on the scenario where the actors reach such levels of exhaustion that they are willing to negotiate a peace, as noted by Luttwak (Foreign Affairs, 1999); and in this case, through negotiations involving exclusively Libyan actors, i.e. without external mediators. We shall discuss the scenario where the actors form a unity government and whether or not it makes progress towards stabilization, as well as the scenario where the actors fail to […]

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Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Money, Wealth and Taxes

As we evaluate the Islamic State’s ability to create a real and sustainable polity, we examined previously the overall structure of the Khilafah with its wilayat system (“Structure and Wilayat“), the top ruling authorities and related legitimacy (“The Calif and Legitimacy“), and the monopoly of the legitimate means of violence, i.e. military, security and police (“Means of Violence“). Continuing using Weber’s classical principles of what a state is (1919), we shall now turn to the capacity of the Khilafah to extract resources. Indeed, as the recurrent problem of public budget deficits and currently of the Greek crisis, permanently reminds us, no state may survive long without an ability to get resources or income that are necessary to carry out its mission, notably in terms of security. In other […]

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Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Means of Violence

As we seek to assess the Islamic State’s ability to create a real and sustainable polity, meanwhile understanding it better, we first focused on the overall structure of the Islamic State and its Khilafah, which can usefully be seen as a wilayat system. Then, we started analysing the top leadership constituted by the Calif (Khalif, Khalifa), the Shura Council and the Sharia Council, what these institutions mean and entail in terms of legitimacy. Here, after having rapidly explained our methodology, using Max Weber’s (1919) classical distinction, we shall focus on the monopoly of the legitimate means of violence, i.e. military, security and police. With the next post, we shall deal with the extraction of resources as well as with all the other administrative agencies. Of course, legitimacy […]

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Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Structure and Wilayat

Conflicting information regarding the Islamic State and the evolution of the war emerge everyday from the media, while analysts, commentators and official statements are no less swaying. For example, on 13 April 2015, “Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman” stressed that the Islamic State had “ceded 5,000 to 6,000 square miles of territory”, painting a “rosier portrait” as […]

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