Syrian Echoes Newsletter #0 April 2017

We are delighted to introduce the first edition of the “Syrian Echoes newsletter #0”.
In this issue, we provide you with an analysis of current conflict dynamics in Syria, discuss the role of the local governance in managing the conflict, and share key recommendations the Syrian civil society has for the ongoing Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and Region. We also shed light on an interesting  testimony from Syrian aid groups which shows that despite the hate discourse during the evacuation of Eastern Aleppo in 2016 there were local humanitarian efforts on the ground trying to mend social division and begin healing. Last but not least make sure to check the list of the latest publications on Syria as well as look into the key events on Syria, past and upcoming.

We intend to make this newsletter a quarterly publication and fill it with relevant content to keep you informed on the latest news and developments related to Syria. In order to make this newsletter valuable for you we would appreciate your feedback and suggestions on this trial issue of the newsletter to help us improve and serve you better.

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Syrian Echoes Newsletter #0

Newsletter #0 Content:


Syrian Conflict Dynamics

29/03/2017

Syrian Conflict Dynamics

by: Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj, Common Space Initiative

The Intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva are progressing slowly while the conflict dynamics on the ground are changing rapidly. Yet, the disconnect between the top-down international efforts to contain and manage the conflict (entering its seventh year this March) and the local and regional drivers of violence is manifest.  The inability to find realistic compromises among the key international actors is sustaining the belligerence of Syrian stakeholders and prolonging what has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II with over 13.5 million persons in need of humanitarian assistance. Inside the country, medicine and basic life supporting commodities are scarce and subject to war profiteering across the fragmented geography of the country. Petrol and gas production dropped and consequently fuel shortages affect every aspect of life especially generating electricity and pumping drinking water.

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Towards Stabilization: the Role of Local Governance in Conflict Management

Policy
by: Maria Chalhoub, Common Space Initiative
Entering its 7th year, the Syrian conflict shows no signs of coming to an end. International stakeholders are nonetheless increasingly debating recovery and reconstruction efforts, signalling a growing focus on the post-agreement era. The Syrian government’s recapture of Aleppo in early December seemed to have particularly contributed to this trend. Though donors insist that reconstruction of aid will only be released upon the initiation of a political transition as per UNSCR 2254 and other relevant international accords, an incessant need to reduce violence and halt migration are begging questions about local stabilization and the need to sustain communities inside Syria now.
The focus of the UN-led negotiations in Geneva has been on a transition towards power sharing at the central level, and seeks an agreement between national political actors that remain polarized on what the nature of a Transitional Governance Body ought to be.
However, for any meaningful participatory governance to emerge in Syria, it must respond to conditions on the ground. National political actors have so far failed to evolve viable political ideas that bring the local levels to bear on the national peace process, and to capitalize on the involvement of local communities in shaping their future.

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On the Eve of Brussels Meetings – 10 Points to Be Kept in Mind

Article
by: Felm

Prior to the donor conference to be held in Brussels on April 5 and 6 to discuss responses to the unfolding situations and follow up on last year’s London conference pledges, here are the recommendations of the Syrian civil society as voiced out in Helsinki in January 2017.

1. Better link humanitarian assistance to existing Syrian civilian and local governance structures. If we are to make resilience real, then we need to realign the global humanitarian system, and strike a better balance between local and international actors.
2. Local actors need to be involved in decision-making and coordination. Consultation with Syrian stakeholders should go beyond defining humanitarian needs and cover all aspects of the process from participation in planning to the implementation of priority investments. There is a need to move from supply-driven approaches to demand-driven planning and implementation.


Community Resilience – Coming Together

Stories from the Ground 

It may sound impossible, but there are good reasons to keep trying to build peace in the midst of a devastating war. While a seemingly endless battle rages in Syria, the piece of the puzzle that is left unseen from afar is at the grassroots level. There, Syrian networks and organizations are doing their best to maintain a semblance of society, to sustain the day-to-day fabric that holds people, families and communities together. An example of why such efforts are essential is the evacuation of Eastern Aleppo in December 2016. This story shows that despite the hate discourse that emerged in the wake of the battle, some actors were on the ground trying to mend social bridges and begin the healing.
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Publications

Geographies of Absence: Radicalization and the Shaping of the New Syrian Territoriality

Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj, Common Space Initiative

March, 2017
This article focuses on understanding the new geography of Syria. It argues that the emergence of radicalized actors is not an accidental feature of conflict dynamics, but that the territorial patterns of control have directly served their positioning. Subsequently the article argues that these patterns, intended or not, have fostered the radicalization of the armed actors on all sides, imposing asymmetrical patterns of territoriality that will seriously undermine the top-down approach of the Geneva process.

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IMAR reconstruction report

Urban Research Center

March, 2017
The report monitors the progress in the reconstruction process and its related projects and the current
situation of infrastructure in Syria.

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Forced Dispersion, Syrian Human Status: The Demographic Report 2016

Syrian Center for Policy Research December, 2016

The Forced Dispersion Report diagnoses population status in Syria before and during the crisis by adopting participatory rights-based approach. The report re-estimates key pre crisis demographic indicators, which allows for different understanding of the population challenges.

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Events

Upcoming events
Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference
04-05 April 2017 | Brussels, Belgium
The conference, which will be held at ministerial level, will bring together 70 countries, international organizations and civil society. 
Previous events
How to Support Bottom-Up Community Resilience in Syria
23 January 2017 | Helsinki
On 23rd of January 2017 seven Finnish NGOs working on Syria held a seminar on How to Support Bottom-Up Community Resilience in Syria. It was organized as a side-event to Supporting Syrians and the Region  which was  the launch of the 2017-2018 UN Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) and the key humanitarian priorities of on Syria.

Supporting Syrians &The Region

24 January 2017 | Helsinki

On 24 January 2017, Finland and the United Nations co-hosted  a conference on the Syria crisis in Helsinki. UNDP, OCHA and UNCHR launched the 3RP – Regional Refugee and Resilience Pland in Response to the Syria Crisis for 2017-2018 and shared the humanitarian priorities for 2017. A number of side events were held. More info here


End of the Newsletter

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