This book is a result of a 10-month long project that included a series of papers, consultations, and workshop on security sector reform. The objective of this book is to clearly identify the relevant cognitive, political, social, and technical conditions for transforming Syria’s security structures given the current situation in Syria. An executable vision in this regard should be driven by common interests of all actors, and must divert the conflict from political competition among the warring parties—local, regional, and international—allowing them to identify compatible conditions for local security in coordination with a centralized security architecture that is also in line with regional balances. The primary research questions of this book were:
1. How compatible is the Syrian political situation with the current security sector? What are the conditions in the proposed political scenarios relating to the nature of the new political system in Syria that will prevent the repetition of previous failed attempts?
2. Do the existing security structures in the various parts of Syria under the control of varied groups have the ability to deal with constantly changing security threats? Are they changeable?
3. What roles and programs are required from the community to engage and participate in the formation and maintenance of a security strategy?
4. What is the potential for security reform in Syria and the nature, level, and goals of the plan to execute such reforms?
This book is organized in three chapters.
The first chapter sets out the main concepts and policies required for a security sector transformation. It includes steps for restructuring the security sector, and disarmament and reintegration programs, while drawing on the experiences of other post-conflict countries. Additionally, it identifies the primary catalysts for security sector transformation, such as a strong civil society and transitional justice programs.
The second chapter evaluates existing security architectures in zones controlled by the opposition, regime, and Democratic Union Party (PYD) “self-administration”. This chapter further assesses the current security structures and their effectiveness and capacity to achieve their declared security goals. It also discusses centralized and decentralized operations and functions of security.
The third chapter deconstructs challenges in transforming the security structures in Syria, in order to ultimately present a practical and achievable proposal. The last part of the chapter puts forward a proposed security vision and action plan based on a set of strategic objectives that ensure a cohesive security sector that can operate effectively and allow communities to participate in their own security operations. It also provides a timeline with three phases of reform measures— the pre-transition or “peacebuilding phase”, the transition phase, and the stability phase.