Authority in Disarray… Reading into the Syrian Landscape
The Forum of Knowledge and Freedom of Speech held its second session on Saturday, 26th October 2013. The event, ‘Authority in Disarray… Reading into the Syrian Landscape’, hosted two special guests: Yaseen al-Haj Saleh, a writer and intellectual; and the journalist Hala Kadamani. It was held in Gaziantep, Turkey with a number of Syrian-based participants.
After the forum was opened by the head of session Yasmeen Merie,   Yaseen al-Haj Saleh began the discussion with his concept of sovereignty. He defined it as the highest undetectable authority that is strictly hierarchical, holds a monopoly over all violence and defines all political bodies in the country.

He explained how this concept has developed through history and has been most commonly associated with the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and the rise of the nation state. By applying these theories to the Middle East, he argued that the nation states that currently exist in the region lack real sovereignty because they are unable to be involved in wars – one of the principle properties of sovereignty. In regard to Syria, he hypothesized that there are still parts of the country that exist under colonization. He views the role of the revolution as transformative and that it has come to sweep away the country’s old structure and establish a new form of sovereignty.

Yaseen al-Haj Saleh was followed by Hala Kadamani who talked about the current state of disarray in Syria as a result of the absence of any single national authority. She focused on the two competing sides of the conflict that are vying for control of the state and its impact on the country’s sovereignty.
Following their introductory speeches, the audience was invited to ask questions. The subsequent discussion covered many topics, from the relationship of sovereignty and geographical borders to re-establishing the rights of citizens in the absence of a functioning state. The event proved to be very fruitful and engaging with new and exciting ground covered over the course of the day.
All sessions of ‘The Forum for Knowledge and Freedom of Speech’ are held in cooperation with “Suwar” magazine published by the Center of Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS), along with “Hinta” and “Dawdaa” magazines.

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