The Political Economy of the Conflict in Syria: After 2018 with Rabie Nasser (September 20)


George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government presents

Moderated by Bassam Haddad

tuesday september 20
6:00 PM EST
Krug Room, Room 242
George Mason University

***** Open to the public *****

Pizzas will be served!

Co-sponsored by Schar School, Institute of Arabic Studies, Middle East and Islamic Studies Program

The Syrian economy has experienced a sharp deterioration over the past two years, represented by a contraction in GDP of 18% in 2021, with a trade deficit exceeding 60% of production, a sharp deterioration in exchange rates, interest rates inflation reaching 80% and an increase in external and internal debt and dependence on aid. In addition, unemployment has reached 48%. Due to economic deterioration, overall poverty rates reached 92% and extreme poverty reached 53%, while the crisis of forcibly displaced people continued with no prospect of return.

Additionally, the economy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lebanese crisis, drought and sanctions as external factors. However, the main factors contributing to the deterioration have been the failure of economic governance, the dominance of conflict economies – with their warlords and elites – the decline of man and capital and the destruction physical capital. Furthermore, we observe marked fragmentation between regions as well as increased societal polarization more broadly. Finally, the decline in military operations has not contributed to economic recovery due to the prevalence of conflict-focused policies and dependence on external powers.

To address these varied issues, Rabie Nasser introduces a framework that involves a strategy of integrated development nodes, based on a broader role of society in the economic process, given the absence of political settlement. This happens by developing the experience of local communities, initiatives, civil institutions and humanitarian organizations and investing in solidarity economic activities in a sustainable and participatory way.


Rabie Nasser
is co-founder and director of the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR), and researcher and lecturer at the University of Vienna. He works as a researcher on macroeconomic policies, inclusive growth, poverty and conflict dynamics. He holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Leicester, UK. Prior to joining SCPR, Nasser worked for the National Planning Commission as Chief Economist and Director of the Macroeconomic Directorate. Then he worked as an economics researcher at the Arab Planning Institute in Kuwait.

Bassam Haddad is director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program and associate professor at the Schar School of Politics and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011) and co-editor of A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2021). Bassam is co-founder/publisher of Jadaliyya Ezine and Executive Director of the Institute of Arab Studies. He is the founding editor of Journal of Arabic Studies and the Knowledge Generation Project. He is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdadand director of the acclaimed series Arabs and terrorism. Bassam sits on the board of directors of Arab Council for Social Sciences and is executive producer of Status Audio Magazine and director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI). He received the MESA Jere L. Bacharach Service Award in 2017 for his services to the profession. Currently, Bassam is working on his second book on Syria titled Understanding the Syrian Tragedy: Regime, Opposition, Foreigners (forthcoming, Stanford University Press).

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