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Informalization and re-formalization of trade institutions in Syria during the war (2011-2021)

This paper seeks to explain the contradictory dynamics of institutional de-formalization and renormalization through a dynamic model that takes into account the joint impact of war, sanctions, and government policies on institutional transformation in Syria over the period 2011-2021 with a particular focus on the trade sector. The objective of the paper is twofold; with the first being that the study is challenging the mainstream analysis on denormalization as the only trend within countries caught in conflicts and/or under sanctions. It will attempt to exhibit that formalization of institutions can also be an effect of conflict and sanction. Secondly, it shows that no single factor is responsible for any single trend, but rather a confluence of many factors that provide divergent effects contingent on the timing and composition.

The broader goal of this paper is to improve the understanding of state capacity and its potential contribution to post-war stabilization. There is widespread evidence that the success or failure of any political or peacebuilding process may hinge on significant improvements in Syrian state capacity. Yet, in order to bring an end to a conflict which is perpetuated by the state, attempts are often to degrading state capacity for violence. This is a dilemma to be grappled with rather than overlooked. Looking into government actions and seeing predatory behavior or authoritarian resilience is not incorrect, yet it imposes analytical blinkers to other processes taking place.

The paper has Four sections. The first section focuses on the dynamic model of confluence effects of war, government policies, and sanctions while the second analyses in-formalization trends before the war. A third chapter focuses on the re-formalization trends during the war and its context and concludes with the fourth on the policy implications for this model.

This research paper by Dr. Omar Dahi, is part of a study titled “Syrian Trade, Health and Industry in Conflict Time (2011-2021) A study on the impact of war, public policies and sanctions” published in March 2022 by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Syria/Iraq Office. 

Read the full paper here

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