In a Liberated Syrian City, Citizen Government Takes Shape

In a Liberated Syrian City, Citizen Government Takes Shape

AL BAB, Syria -- There is clearly something improvised about the courtroom scene: The prison guard wears civilian clothes and holds an assault rifle. He and a prisoner pose with a wide grin for a visiting photographer. The court sits in a simple office room, in a building whose courtyard has been partially damaged by bombardment.

Yet this is very much government in action. With a 48-member council, a “council manager” (elected for a one-month term by council vote) and a criminal court, civic government is reasserting itself in this northern Syrian city of about 180,000 people after rebel fighters pushed government forces out at the end of July. Al Bab is far from peaceful: Government jets bombard it almost every day, and up to two-thirds of the population has fled. But a measure of normalcy has been re-established.

In the makeshift court, the 12 judges gravely seat themselves to hear the case before them, a financial dispute between a man and his son that degenerated into a fistfight. The court applies a mixture of civil and Islamic (Shariah) law. Two of the judges are civil lawyers, while 10 are religious scholars, two of them professors at Aleppo University.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.