Rethinking Governance – Insights from Syria during Covid-19
El hafi, Abdulah
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This report builds on a previous study led by Dr. Juline Beaujouan at the University of Edinburgh, assisted by two of her colleagues – Abdallah El hafi and Eyas Ghreiz – on the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on local peace dynamics in northwest Syria, namely northern Aleppo and Idlib governorates which moved from the control of the Syrian regime in 2013. These initial findings were collected in a policy brief and a report under the common title ‘Covid-19: Tool of Conflict or Opportunity for Local Peace in Northwest Syria?’ published by the Political Settlements Research Programme (predecessor to PeaceRep) at the University of Edinburgh in July 2021. The report concluded that the pandemic did not reinforce existing tensions and conflict dynamics, but highlighted several structural challenges to durable peace in opposition-held areas. On the one hand, relations between the Syrian government and opposition groups remained rather stable throughout the pandemic, despite repetitive breaches of the Idlib ceasefire by the Syrian regime and the Russian military. On the other, Covid-19 further damaged political trust in both the national government and opposition institutions, and highlighted the need to integrate peacebuilding efforts towards sustainable peace into all emergency Covid-19 responses to mitigate the long-term adverse effects of the pandemic, such as the deteriorating economy and lack of education and opportunities.