The SDF-controlled areas in Deir Ezzor Governorate suffer daily conflicts because of security chaos, deteriorating local economy, and poor services. The security situation varies from one region to another. It is better in the western regions such as Al-Kasra sub-district. Security forces have been trying to reduce security instability in the governorate, but it is obvious that this has had no actual impacts in the region.
The drivers of conflict vary in Deir Ezzor, and new ones emerged after 2011. According to interviewees, reasons can be categorized into materialistic, tribal competitions, political and ideological disputes, conflict over water resources and agricultural lands, conflicts over oil resources, conflicts over the management of aid provided by the civil society organizations, drug trafficking, severe shortage of services, conflicts between residents and displaced people, conflicts caused by violations committed during different power controls of the Deir Ezzor.
Conflicts can be also classified in terms of the possibility of intervening and resolution:
Complex disputes take a long time to resolve – these include cases involving murder, revenge, kidnapping, inheritance disputes, management of oil resources, ownership of lands and real estate if too many parties are involved, honor killing, violations by ISIS, and conflicts between the local people and authorities.
More easily resolved disputes, including financial disputes, family disputes (marriage, divorce, or dowries), commercial disputes, irrigation disputes, inheritance, and traffic accidents.
Traditionally, the parties most involved in local conflicts resolution efforts have been tribal leaders and dignitaries, Imams, and educated. After 2011, new parties emerged. Tribal councils and reconciliation committees have emerged, formed by local dignitaries and influencers and tribal sheikhs in many regions, religious committees, youth groups, well-off people, security or military leaders, and civil figures closely working with the Autonomous Administration institutions.
Civil society organizations play an important role, including providing services and humanitarian assistance along with mediating any resulting conflicts, besides utilizing relations networks, expertise, and financial support to help develop the local dialogue process.
Parties involved in local conflict resolution face many challenges, most notably: the security situation, lack of support by the local authorities, tribalism and unregulated possession of arms, lack of trust in the Autonomous Administration’s institutions (courts in particular), as well as rampant corruption of these institutions.
JFL has good experience in research work and using various research tools to study subjects related to social structures. JFL has developed a special design tool that integrates the study objective model with key interviews. This approach improves the clarity of outcomes and reinforces measurement outcomes and research goals, which is finding conflict’s common roots and causes of local conflicts, and the role of the civil society on resolving these conflicts. The study adopted a single research tool, which is interviews. Key stakeholders from Al-Kasra (the west countryside) and Hajin (the east country) were interviewed, and the goal was to address problems in detail. This thorough understanding requires key people with extensive knowledge of the region.
The evaluation process involved the development of the special design tool, data collection and analysis, development of findings and conclusions, writing down the social inclinations and include them in the report during a period of from February to June 2021. The evaluation process took place in Al-Kasra and Hajin towns.
Based on the findings, JFL recommends working on two priorities for future conflict resolution: the first is an emergency mechanism that can resolve existing conflicts with the contribution of influential community forces, and the second is a preventive process aimed at reducing the number and level of conflicts. Therefore, this requires improving the security situation and strengthen the local participation in decision-making as well as developing the work of the administration institutions, led by the courts.
The study comes against the backdrop of increased cases of violence in the various areas covered by the study in Deir Ezzor to clarify the motives and types of conflicts and make recommendations to influential parties on intervention based on each party’s capabilities and responsibilities. The study highlights the direct and indirect causes of conflicts, calls for dealing with various causes, shows the shortcomings of efforts focused solely on direct causes, and explores mechanisms for dealing with various causes as a necessary entry point to reduce conflicts and narrows their repercussions.
The participants in the study give it more importance as they are people with first-hand and detailed knowledge of conflicts in their areas, as Al Kasra area interviews were carried out by members of the Community Peace Committee, which was formed with the support of Justice for Life, and in Hajin area conducted by experienced activists. This gave more depth to discussions on local conflicts. The study’s findings, recommendations and information on repeated conflicts will be discussed in panel discussions led by the members of the aforementioned Peace Committee to talk about why these conflicts are repeated and how best to intervene.
At the end of the discussions, Justice for Life expects to develop intervention mechanisms and suggestions based on the results of this study and the outcomes of the dialogue sessions.
This study is part of a collaboration between Justice for Life (JFL) and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in a project to promote local participation in decision-making, including peace-building efforts, local reconciliation, and stability. This is to support of the local efforts of various community groups to promote coexistence and understanding among the various parties and local groups in Deir Ezzor.
The study examines the causes, motives and most parties involved in resolving the conflicts in Deir Ezzor governorate, and the challenges that complicate the efforts to resolve and overcome them. The study illustrates the impact of the current economic and security situation on the community and its role in increasing conflicts among individuals and local groups. The study shows the types of more frequent conflicts in Deir Ezzor governorate by depending on key informants’ answers and examples of conflicts in their areas. The study differentiates between more easily resolved and difficult-to-resolve disputes by identifying the circumstances and factors that complicate or ease the conflict resolution.
The study focuses on the role of civil society organizations working in Deir Ezzor governorate in contributing to conflict resolution and how the financial and human resources of these organizations can be utilized to achieve this. The study answers the following question: Have civil society organizations become a party capable of intervening and establishing civil peace? Or does its new role and work in the region require it to do more to convince the community and other actors of this role?
The study contains the recommendations of key informants interviewed by the Justice for Life team. The recommendations have clearly responded to locally preferred parties who enjoy local trust in mediation efforts. Participants recommended including the necessities of intervention and the negatives that are reflected in society in the event of disruption of mediation sought to resolve disputes.
Read more: Conflicts in Deir Ezzor