The anniversary of the Syrian uprising, often reckoned from 15 March 2011, witnessed myriad preliminary steps from the international community that signal emerging priorities as the deadlocked conflict drags on. Last week’s Syria Update examined the state of the aid response and how development and humanitarian approaches should adapt to hard realities in the country (see: Syria Update 15 March 2011). This week, we delve into trends shaping the policy and political space around Syria, as the armed conflict remains — for now — stubbornly frozen. Two diverging trends exist in the international community’s approach to Damascus. On the one hand are a growing number of accountability measures, including political pressure, legal challenges, and economic sanctions. These are approaches led by the U.S. and Europe that primarily aim to hold the Government of Syria to account, and they are gaining speed, even though significant questions over efficacy remain unanswered. These approaches are set against a nascent effort led by Russia to usher the Government of Syria through a period of international censure and cement Moscow’s own interests in the country while growing its diplomatic profile in the wider region.
On 30 January, the Ministry of Administrative Development (MoAD) announced that 10,076 demobilised Syrian Arab Army soldiers had passed the employment exam taken by candidates for the two topmost tiers of public-sector work. While the employment pipeline directing demobilised soldiers into public service is not new, it has arguably never been more important in Syria’s modern history, and it is changing significantly.