Is There Still a Syrian State? Four Questions to Eberhard Kienle

A school in Syria during the war. Copyright: Shutterstock

Research Professor at CERI Sciences Po, Eberhard Kienle currently works on the dislocation of states in the Middle East and on the regional political order, as well as on the link between economic liberalisation and political transformations in the region. He has agreed to help us understand the current status of the Syrian state. Is there still a state in Syria? Interview.

You mention that there are similarities between what you call the “old struggle for Syria” (late 1940s) and the current “new struggle” for Syria. Would you mind giving us the main aspects of these similarities?

When Syria became an independent state with the departure of French forces in 1945, unsurprisingly various political forces competed for political influence and for the material resources that depend on government action. Like many other states emerging from decolonization, Syria had been largely shaped by the European powers: at the end of World War One the British and the French drew the political borders of post-Ottoman Middle East and thereby defined the territory and population of its contemporary states, including Syria. Great Britain and France also established their institutions, including governments, assemblies and administrations, in other words (...)