In this Quick Thoughts conversation for Status/الوضع, Samer Abboud outlines the impact of sanctions on the rise of social actors in Syria who facilitate transactions as intermediaries and assist in providing access to parts of the country afflicted with conflict. As producers and distributors, these elite networks are helping provide access to otherwise unreachable areas in the country. Much of this involves close coordination with armed groups to ensure transfer of goods, products, personnel, etc., making them an integral lifeline for many communities and locales. Before the conflict, much of these groups constituted middle to lower strata. But with the war raging, many of the elite business leaders with the ability to leave have already departed. Those that remained, the new business class, are imperative interlocutors. Abboud expects them to play a significant role in any future of Syrian reconstruction.
Samer Abboud is an associate professor of international studies and currently holds the Franklyn and Evelyn ’42 Steinbrucker Endowed Chair (2015-2017) at Arcadia University. He is the author of Syria, the forthcoming book on the Syrian conflict (Polity).