Bassel Salloukh writes: What kind of a Syria will emerge from the wreckage of – so far – more than five years of fighting? This is the question international, regional, and local actors are pondering as ‘proximity talks’ between Syrian government envoys and representatives of the internationally-designated opposition commenced in Geneva in March 2016 under UN auspices.
What political system can restore a semblance of territorial integrity to a country devastated by all kinds of overlapping international, regional, and local wars and crisscrossed by transnational and local salafi-jihadi groups, where sectarian and ethnic identities, never the sole markers of political identity, have been securitised and are now assumed primordial and the main source of political identity and community?
How will communities that have witnessed political mobilisation in the name of the sect or the ethnic group, as well as sectarian and ethnic massacres, accept to live together again under the same flag or inside the same borders?
The inescapable question then is whether postwar Syria will retain its centralised unitary political structure, will be divided along ethno-federal lines, or a middle ground will be devised between these binary choices that may help restore peace to Syria without altering its political geography forever or denying its peoples their justifiable democratic aspirations. [Continue reading…]