Conflict and Fragility

Syria After Civil War #3: Regional Militancy and Political Order
13 May 2019 11:30 - 14:00

If you want to join this discussion, please send a mail to Harriët Garvelink-van Splunder.

A key aspect of the Syrian civil war are its many ‘new’ manifestations, trends and practices of militancy – i.e. the use of violent methods in support of a political cause. Particularly remarkable in this conflict has been the role of powerful non-state groups that are loosely connected with the Syrian state as they play parallel domestic, transnational and international roles. What to think, for example, about a Shi’a group like the Asaib ahl al-Haq that now co-governs Iraq while also intervening in the Syrian civil war on behalf of the regime of President Assad, with Iranian support?

This meeting analyzes two concrete examples of such militancy. Marina Calculli (University of Leiden) will discuss Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian civil war as part of the ‘axis of resistance’ and as political manifestation of Shi’a militancy. Fréderieke Geerdink will examine the role of the Syrian Kurds in the conflict, ranging from their implicit bargain with President Assad’s regime, intra-Kurdish differences and the link with the regional Kurdish struggle for greater rights. Erwin van Veen (Clingendael) will provide a few conceptual thoughts upfront to frame the notion of militancy.


  • Marina Calculli (Lecturer, University of Leiden)
  • Fréderieke Geerdink (Journalist and author, freelance)
  • Erwin van Veen (Senior Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Moderator: Hans Wurzer (Training and Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

11:30-12:00     Welcome and registration
12:00-12:10     Conceptual introduction to ‘militancy’ by Erwin van Veen
12:10-12:30     Introduction by Marina Calculli on the role of Hezbollah and Shi’a militancy
12:30-13:00     Discussion 
13:00-13:20     Introduction by Fréderieke Geerdink on the Syrian Kurds and Kurdish militancy
13:20-14.00     Discussion  

Please be advised that these lunch discussions are held under the Chatham House Rule.