“Why Did the Syrian State Not Disappear? Bringing the International Back In”
Asst. Prof. Janis Grzybowski,
European School of Political and Social Sciences (ESPOL),
Catholic University of Lille
Date: Friday, March 13, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Place: FEASS Building, A-130
At the height of the devastating Syrian civil war stretching over the last decade, political commentators argued that the Syrian state was collapsing in terms of its administrative infrastructure, fragmenting along ethno-sectarian lines, and dissolving under jihadist pressure. At the same time, however, it appeared impossible to conclude that the Syrian state had actually vanished. This impasse, I argue, is due to an insufficient reflection on the entangled concepts of the state and the international. A more reflexive and encompassing reading distinguishes between different dimensions of statehood, and pays attention in particular to the exceptional threat that daesh appeared to pose to the very model of the internationally delineated state. The Syrian state did not survive because it could not have disappeared, or (simply) because the regime came back from the brink with foreign support, but precisely because it was fundamentally challenged. As foreign backers of the rebellion were unwilling to endorse new states or see the Syrian state fully disappear, they came to at least tacitly commit to its persistence, even if that meant watching the regime take back control.
Janis Grzybowski is Assistant Professor at the European School of Political and Social Sciences (ESPOL) at the Catholic University of Lille and Associate Researcher at the Center of International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po, Paris. He received his PhD in Political Science/International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. His main research interests concern questions of state creation and international order approached from perspectives of IR, international law, and political theory. He recently published articles in International Theory, the European Journal of International Law, and the Journal of International Political Theory.