Under the Assad regime, Syria acquired a well-deserved reputation as a repressive mukhabarat state dominated by vast, overlapping internal security agencies that operated with near impunity, reporting directly to the president. Having presided over so much destruction and division, however, it is likely that the Assad regime will eventually be replaced by a government with a better claim to legitimacy. Security sector reform will be a key challenge for establishing the legitimacy of any post-Assad political order, but what would such a system look like and how could it be constructed?
This paper by Murhaf Jouejati uses an insightful review of Syria’s armed forces and security institutions, from the French mandate to the present day, to lay out the priorities for a reformed Syrian security sector that will support a civil, democratic and pluralistic state in which all citizens are equal before the law. This will be challenging for a new government working to restore stability and unity after the conflict, but a reformed security sector will be central to building a better political order without sectarian and ethnic divisions.