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Syria: Conflict Dynamics and Analysis of Tribe and Politics from a Research Perspective with Haian Dukhan

This podcast episode is in Arabic


In the latest episode, the “Syria: Alternative Dialogues” podcast delves into the dynamics of the conflict in Syria and analyses the relationship between the state and Arab tribes. The episode features Dr. Haian Dukhan, a political researcher specialising in studying the political system and tribes in Syria.

Dr. Dukhan introduces us to his book “State and Tribes in Syria Informal Alliances and Conflict Patterns”, which provides an important study on tribes and clans in Syria and the factors that have strengthened their authority. He also sheds light on the evolution of the relationship between the state and tribes over time, starting from the Ottoman era through the French mandate, the Assad regime, and the Syrian revolution.

Dukhan also discusses the role of the ruling authority’s policies in perpetuating tribal and clan identities in the region, which have hindered the development of a unified national identity for Syrians.

Dukhan provides valuable insights based on his extensive research in this field, highlighting challenges such as the lack of studies and political biases. He emphasises the importance of academic knowledge production in providing a deeper understanding of the root causes of the conflict in Syria and developing more effective strategies to address these causes.

The episode highlights the complexities of the relationship between tribes and the state in Syria and its impact on the ongoing conflict, emphasising the need for a critical and deep understanding of these dynamics to achieve peace and stability in the future.


Haian Dukhan:
Dukhan is A Syrian political researcher specialising in studying the relationship between the state and Arab tribes in Syria from the late Ottoman period to the ongoing war in the country. He holds a Master’s degree in International Development from the University of East Anglia and a PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.

Dukhan has contributed to numerous studies, articles, and research papers that shed light on the complex local dynamics in rural Syria, the drivers of political violence, religious extremism, and other topics. Over the past decade, he has presented his research findings at many international conferences and delivered numerous lectures at various academic and non-academic institutions such as the London School of Economics (LSE), the University of Oxford, Uppsala University, the University of Maryland, the Bruno Kreisky Forum, and others.

In 2019, he published his first book, “State and Tribes in Syria Informal Alliances and Conflict Patterns”, which provides an important study of the tribes and clans in Syria and the factors contributing to enhancing their authority. 

The host: Rabie Nasser, Researcher and Co-founder of the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR).

Episode`s references

Books

1.   Dukhan, H. (2019) “State and Tribes in Syria: Informal Alliances and Conflict Patterns” Abingdon:

o   Routledge. First published in 2019, paperback in 2020

o   Routledge/ St. Andrews Syrian Studies Series

o   Reviewed in The New Arab, LSE Middle East Centre Blog, Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi, Omran Journal

2.   al-Azmeh, A., Akdedian, H. and Dukhan, H. (eds.) (2024)” Spoils of War in the Arab East: Reconditioning Society and Polity in Conflict.”

3.  Hinnebusch, R., Dukhan, H., et al. (eds) “Routledge Research Handbook of the Levant” (Routledge, forthcoming, 2025).

Book Chapters

1.  Dukhan, H. (2025, Forthcoming) “Beyond Alawites and Sunnis: The Sectarian Mosaic of Eastern Syria”. In Gani, J. K., & Hinnebusch, R. (Eds.), Sectarianism and Civil War in Syria. Routledge.

2.  Dukhan, H. (2024) “Devolution of State Power in Syria and Iraq: Tribal Auxiliaries from the Margins to the Centre”, chapter in al-Azmeh, A., Akdadian, H. and Dukhan, H. (eds.) Spoils of War in the Arab East: Reconditioning Society and Polity in Conflict (Bloomsbury)

3.  Dukhan, H. & Belcastro, F. (2023) “Tribes and proxy wars in the Middle East” in the Routledge Handbook of Proxy Wars edited by Assaf Moghadam, Vladimi Ruta, and Michal Wyss.”

4.  Dukhan, H. (2022) “Tribes at War: The Struggle for Syria”, chapter in “Actors and Dynamics in the Syrian Conflict’s Middle Phase Between Contentious Politics, Militarization, and Regime Resilience” Edited By Jasmine K. Gani, Raymond Hinnebusch, London, Routledge.

5.  Dukhan, H. (2016) “From Reform to Revolt, Bashar al-Assad and the Arab Tribes in Syria”, Pastoralist Livelihoods in Asian Drylands: Environment, Governance, and Risk, Ariell Ahearn and Troy Sternberg with Allison Hahn, Cambridge: White Horse Press.

Policy Reports

1.   Dukhan, H. Alhammad, A. & Shaar, K. (2021) “The Kin Who Count: Mapping Raqqa’s Tribal Topology” Middle East Institute, 24 March 2021. Available at: https://www.mei.edu/publications/kin-who-count-mapping-raqqas-tribal-topology

2.   Dukhan, H. (2020) “How the Islamic State Commandeers Syrian Tribal Networks: The Case Study of Saddam al-Jamal” Jamestown Foundation, 4 April 2021. Available at: https:https://jamestown.org/program/how-islamic-state-commandeers-syrian-tribal-networks-the-case-study-of-saddam-al

3.   Dukhan, H. & Osann, T. (2020) “Local Approaches to IDP Return and Reintegration of Internally Displaced in Deir Ez-zur and al-Hasakah, Northeast Syria” Washington, D.C.: United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

4.   Dukhan, H., Kostrz, M., Neirat, O. (2017) “Political Economy of Value Chains in Southern Syria. Tribal & Armed Group Influence on Dairy, Cattle Feed and Olive Oil Value Chains” Washington, D.C.: United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Book Reviews

1.   Dukhan, H. (2021) “Review of ‘Social change in Syria Family, Village and Political Party’”, Contemporary Levant, DOI: 10.1080/20581831.2021.1972553

2.   Dukhan, H. (2020) “Review of ‘Joking About Jihad: Comedy and Terror in the Arab World’” LSE Middle East Blog. 10 August 2020. Available at: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2020/08/10/book-review-joking-about-jihad-by-gilbert-ramsay-and-moutaz-alkheder/

3.   Dukhan, H. (2020) “Review of ‘Tribes and Global Jihadism’ Middle East Monitor. 30 July 2020. Available at: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200730-tribes-and-global-jihadism/

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