Civil Society and Local Elites in Northern Syria
Jul 14, 2023 1745

Civil Society and Local Elites in Northern Syria

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This report was prepared by the late researcher Hazem Zahoor Adi before his death in the earthquake that hit southern Turkyie on February 6, 2023.   

As the Jusoor Center for Studies publishes this report, it remembers Adi’s diligent efforts and confirms that he will always remain in the hearts of the team and all who loved him.  

Executive Summary   

During the Ba'ath rule in Syria, the authority's intervention was deeply ingrained in Syrian society affairs, covering all its intellectual, social, cultural, and political activities. This even extended to creating specific elites fit the authority's agenda, to prevent society from choosing or exporting their own ones. This was the norm with only a few exceptions.   

Since 2011, the authority in Syria has relatively lost its ability to intervene in societal matters, gradually restoring the presence of civil society through the emergence of entities such as unions, political bodies, community associations, media unions, humanitarian and development organizations, among others.   

In contrast, new local authorities have emerged as alternatives to the Syrian regime's in areas where the latter lost control. After 2018, these authorities receded in the northern parts of the country, with civil society struggling to maintain its existence and trying to minimize these authorities' interventions in its affairs.   

New local elites have appeared, taking upon themselves the task of expressing public opinion and echoing civil society’s suffering. These elites have been active either in cooperation with the aforementioned organizations and bodies, or independently in politics, economics, and societal affairs.   

This report attempts to review the current state of civil society in northern Syria, and the status of the local elite in this region, whether traditional or newly emerged ones.   

Researchers