Sina Schweikle

Syrian Refugees from One Crisis to Another: The Question of Return

The author Laure-Maïssa Fargelat analyses the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon in times of political, socio-economic and financial crisis.

The political, socio-economic and financial crisis that Lebanon is currently going through is the worst that the country has experienced in over 30 years. With an inflationary trajectory, a de facto devaluation of the Lebanese Pound (LBP) officially pegged to the American Dollar (USD) and banking restrictions imposed on foreign currency withdrawals, Lebanese citizens as well as foreign nationals residing in the country face great financial challenges. In this gloomy situation, Syrian refugees in Lebanon are not only confronted to deteriorating living conditions but also to additional challenges related to their status. Therefore, the question of return is a timely and crucial one, as the financial and economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, might constitute a turning point for many refugees in relation to their intention and actual decision to return to Syria.

The Role of Media in Facing Political Crises

Shajan Al-'Akk from the KAS partner organisation Hamzet Wasel analyses the role of media and its ability to soothe and navigate through political crises.

This well structured and affluent report presents the concept of media and thoroughly explains its importance especially in dire straits. Defining political crisis, its characteristics, and the different types it may have, that is, internal or external, and spanning social, economic, political or even ethnic aspects, Shajan further discusses the rules and settings of media as well as its main principles when under pressure. After all, the political impact of media must not be underrated, for, the fourth force of the state, is the first source people resort to when information is needed.

Decentralisation in Iraq - Process, Progress & a New Tailor-Made Model

In the light of decentralization, the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) analyses the relentless and ongoing security and economic crisis plaguing Iraq.

Sectarian, ethnic, and tribal interests have resulted in polarisation, fragmentation and militarisation of several Iraqi communities. Due to extensive international security, political and financial interventions, Iraq has been relatively stabilized with its territorial integrity intact, at least for the moment. However, this international support alone cannot bring about legitimacy and stability in the long term. Nineveh province remains as one of the regions where major security and administrative crises remain unaddressed. Despite the Iraqi Parliament initiative from 2008 to stipulate the devolution of some legislative and executive power, it failed to tackle the local governments’ structural and functional characteristics that are contributing to Iraq’s fragility and vulnerability. In an effort to identify those characteristics and address the challenges arising from them, this publication aims at determining how to better institutionalise decentralisation and power devolution from Baghdad to the provinces and from provinces to districts and sub-districts.

KAS Syria/Iraq

„From Beirut to Baghdad ─ Konrad’s Journey through the Middle East“ (Episode 1)

Interview with UNHCR’s spokesperson Andreas Kirchhof on the Covid-19 situation in the refugee camps across the Middle East

„From Beirut to Baghdad ─ Konrad’s Journey through the Middle East“ is a biweekly podcast by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s Syria/Iraq-Office. Based in Beirut, the podcast discusses current political issues in the region with the foundation’s on the ground partners in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East. Each episode sheds light on up-to-date political, social and economic topics, and provides insights into life and work from Beirut to Baghdad.


Last sheikh standing

What is left of northeast Syria’s tribes?

Syria’s tribes are as poorly understood as they are integral to the country’s social, economic, and political fabric. While often discussed in monolithic terms, these actors are in fact deeply—and increasingly—fractured. Yet they nonetheless remain a core organizing factor in an increasingly fractured environment. Nowhere is this truer than in Syria’s northeast, where longstanding tribal affiliations have remained a core frame of reference amid successive rounds of violence and upheaval. Just as tribal ties have helped shape the course of Syria’s conflict, they are taking on new and vital functions as the war nears its military end game. Tribal leaders and traditions influence a range of ongoing dynamics, from the return of displaced people to small-scale rebuilding, NGO hiring, the management of post-ISIS social tensions, and the regime’s intensifying efforts to rebuild its influence in the northeast. In cooperation with the KAS Syria/Iraq office SYNAPS has published the article "Last sheikh standing - What is left of northeast Syria's tribe?".

The Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Financing of Terrorism

The Case of Syria and Iraq

As terrorist groups proliferate worldwide, a worrisome phenomenon is being increasingly observed: the tendency of terrorist actors to exploit natural resources in order to finance their activities, given the advantages that this source of revenue offers vis-à-vis the available alternatives. Confronted with this phenomenon, it becomes imperative to advance the discussion on terrorists' exploitation of natural resources in the framework of a broader effort to counter the financing of terrorism. This paper has thus a three-fold aim: shed light on the under-investigated phenomenon of how terrorism finances itself through the illegal exploitation of natural resources, present the answer to the problem that has been elaborated within the legal system of the United Nations (UN), propose additional measures that can contribute to countering the exploitation of natural resources by terrorist actors. The publication is available in Arabic and English.

Sina Schweikle

"Proteste beeinflussen das fragile Gleichgewicht in der Region"

Malte Gaier und Gregor Jaecke über die Demonstrationen im Libanon und im Irak

Seit Anfang Oktober erschüttern Massenproteste der Bevölkerung das politische System im Irak und im Libanon. Nicht nur in den Hauptstädten gehen Millionen von Menschen für bessere Lebensbedingungen und Zukunftsperspektiven auf die Straßen. Beide Länder stellen sich damit in eine Reihe mit zahlreichen Aufständen weltweit. Warum begehrt die Bevölkerung auf und was haben diese Protestbewegungen gemeinsam? Diesen und weiteren Fragen gehen im folgenden Interview unsere Leiter der KAS-Auslandsbüros Libanon und Syrien/Irak, Dr. Malte Gaier und Gregor Jaecke, nach.

Economic Recovery in Syria: Mapping Actors and Assessing Current Policies

KAS and Omran Center for Strategic Studies Publish a Book on Economic Recovery in Syria

After more than eight years of conflict and despite a decrease in violent clashes across the country, the political and military landscape in Syria remains unstable. As the conflict seems to be in a final phase, many challenges begin to take shape. Some of the main concerns are related to early economic recovery, which has already started to take place in several areas of the country. As a result of these developments, local, regional, and international policies towards the country have adapted to this reality. This paper aims to analyze and identify actors’ interests and objective criteria for an effective economic recovery that fosters long-term stability and development. Furthermore, it assesses some of the early economic recovery efforts conducted by various actors in their zone of influence in Syria.

Basra's Protest Movement and Unemployment: Contesting Party Dominance of the Oil Sector

KAS and IRIS Publish Paper on the Nexus between the Lack of Employment and the Policies in the Oil Sector of Basra

The city of Basra is largely recognized as the economic capital of Iraq, it represents the country’s main harbor and some of its largest oil fields are located in the province – yet it has been the center of massive protests against unemployment in 2018. The uprisings were fueled by the anger and disappointment many locals felt, being confronted with the lack of job opportunities. These sentiments were mainly channeled towards the government and the international oil companies active in the region. This paper aims to analyze the relationship between oil and unemployment as a crucial factor for both fueling the protests and shaping the government’s response.

Realität gegen Rhetorik

Warum mehr Syrer in ihr Heimatland zurückkehren und was das für Deutschland bedeutet – und was nicht. Ein Erfahrungsbericht aus dem Libanon

Migration und Flucht ist eins der drängendsten Probleme der heutigen globalen Politik. Besonders betroffen war dieses Jahrzehnt der Nahe Osten, der als Reaktion auf Krieg, Terror und wirtschaftliche Perspektivlosigkeit – zum Schauplatz einer Migrationsbewegung wurde, die weltweit zu humanitären Notständen führte. Im Fokus stehen hier Syrien und der Irak, deren Bevölkerung entweder innerhalb der Region, aber in großen Teilen auch über Kontinente hinweg, vor dem sogenannten Islamischen Staat und vor Terror der eigenen Regierungen floh.