The Shabiha Phenomenon
This chapter seeks to deconstruct the imprecise Shabiha discourses and shed light on the phenomenon of pro-government militias in Syria. It is crucial to begin with an examination of the etymology and origins of the term Shabiha. The chapter will then explore the process by which such forces have evolved from irregular, local networks into large paramilitary organisations. In conclusion, it argues that while embracing civilian militias and non-Syrian Shi’a fighters may have helped reinforce Asad's authority, the state's increased reliance on local grassroots militias and foreign fighters may present a long-term challenge to the regime's cohesion and political sovereignty.
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