Home    Number 2, 2021

Anti-State Politics in the Syrian Revolution: The Case of Liberated Zones

[Protivogosu- darstvennye politiki v siriiskoi revoliutsii: primer osvobozhdennykh zon]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150014806-6

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 23.11.20

Accepted: 01.02.21

About author(s)

Montassir Sakhi | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3128-7732 | montassir.sakhi@gmail.com | University nof Paris 8 (2 Rue de la Liberté, 93200 Saint-Denis, France)


state, revolution, FSA, Free Syrian Army, Islamic state, liberated zones, jihad, governance, war, deterritorialization


The article discusses the political discourse and revolutionary practices at the time when the state monopoly on physical violence in Syria was collapsing in 2011–2017. Drawing on field research conducted on the Turkish-Syrian border and interviews with FSA combatants and displaced residents of the liberated zones, I attempt to address the question of what sets the revolutionary politics apart from the practices of governance that are emerging in the course of civil war. I compare the essence of the revolutionary jihad with the jihad of the Islamic state, and test the hypothesis suggesting that residents of the liberated zones resort to using alternative administrative structures and mobilizing symbolic religious values, characteristic of revolutionary societies, in order to maintain social order and prevent the “war of all against all”. This uncodified order resists both bureaucratization and monopolization despite the presence of institutions such as court of law or police which may be taken as an indication of a nation-state makeup. Revolutionary organizations act rather as instruments devised by the population to counterbalance measures imposed by the regime of Syrian governance or Islamic state, as well as to neutralize attempts at establishing the kind of power that would pose an inside threat to the security of revolutionary space.


Sakhi, M. 2021. Anti-State Politics in the Syrian Revolution: The Case of Liberated Zones [Protivogosudarstvennye politiki v siriiskoi revoliutsii: primer osvobozhdennykh zon]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 45–60. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150014806-6

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