‘Mission impossible’: exploring the viability of power-sharing as a conflict-resolution and state-building tool in Syria

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Groarke, Emer
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This thesis will explore the viability of power-sharing as a political and practical way to ameliorate the present situation in Syria (as of July 2014). Further, it will suggest that by adapting the models used to end previous conflicts, and adjusting their application to fit with Syria’s particular needs, power-sharing can also be used as a mechanism through which the state of Syria can be rebuilt in a sustainable manner. While previously the conditions of the conflict were not conducive to peace talks, this thesis believes that recent regional developments have re-opened the possibility of political negotiations. The work will begin with an overview of the nature of Syrian society and the ongoing war. On the completion of an examination of Syria’s social, political and economic make-up both before and during the conflict, as well as the war in Syria as it stands today, a theoretical overview of power-sharing as a conflict-resolution tool will be investigated, and its practical application in Syria be explored. Significant obstacles to a negotiated power-sharing agreement exist in Syria, which will be elaborated on, before suggestions are posited as to how such issues could best be mitigated and potentially transformed into incentives for the parties invested in the conflict. Following this, possible alternatives to the power-sharing model will be examined, namely either a de facto or de jure partition, or a military victory by the regime or the opposition. The conclusion reached will be that a power-sharing agreement, though not without flaws itself, is the most viable and workable conflict-resolution tool at present to address the conflict in Syria.
Second semester University: University of Hamburg.
conflict management, Syria, consociationalism