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The Alawis of SyriaWar, Faith and Politics in the Levant$
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Michael Kerr and Craig Larkin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190458119

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190458119.001.0001

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Chasing Ghosts

Chasing Ghosts

The Shabiha Phenomenon

Chapter:
(p.207) 10 Chasing Ghosts
Source:
The Alawis of Syria
Author(s):

Aron Lund

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190458119.003.0010

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.

Keywords:   Shabiha, Militias, Alawi gangs, Civilian fighters, Islamists, PYD, Popular Committees, National Defence Forces (NDF), Shi’a militias

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