Conflict and Fragility

Conflict and Fragility

The Levant

18 Oct 2018 - 22:24
Source: Tasnim News/Wikimedia Commons
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CRU’s Levant research program examines the impact of hybrid security organisations on state performance in the Levant, focusing on Syria and Iraq. This matters because such organisations will have a profound impact on state development in the next decade. International interventions need to be based on a sound understanding of their nature and behavior.


The Levant has witnessed an extraordinary proliferation of different types of armed groups since the Arab Spring in a context of protracted political crises, violent conflict and deepening regional tensions. CRU’s Levant research program analyses dynamics between hybrid security organizations – a particular type of armed group - and the state. Hybrid security actors are organizations that use their capacity to exert large-scale violence to compete and cooperate with the state at the same time, depending on the issue involved, to realize their political objectives. Their role and behavior will profoundly affect the future development trajectories and performance of states in the area. Effective international support – diplomacy, aid and military – requires a better understanding of these groups than what is the case today. The research program features four dimensions of work due to the interconnected nature of crisis and conflict in the Levant:

  • Assessment of the impact of hybrid security organizations on state performance in Syria and Iraq to develop insight into the future political order(s) of these states.
  • Practical thinking on the reconstruction of Syria and reconciliation in Iraq to examine the political-economies of conflict in which hybrid security organizations operate.
  • Analysis of Turkish, Iranian and Saudi foreign policy to understand how they view and use hybrid security organizations in the context of conflict in the Levant.
  • Analysis of broader political-religious trends in the Middle East to understand the social ecology of which hybrid security organizations are a part.

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Erwin van Veen
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Samar Batrawi
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Ana Uzelac
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