Applying the constructivism theory to the Syrian conflict allows us to understand the novel structure which emerged as a direct result of the mounting internal chaos and led to the formation of subnational identities.
The initial protests saw the construction of the identity of the Syrian people who called for a new national order; this initial cohesion gave way and disintegrated into numerous identities along both religious and ethnic lines. The fragmentation of the anti-Assad faction resulted in a now disunited front, consisting of a rapidly growing number of groups who designated themselves under the ‘Sunni’, ‘Islamist’ or ‘Kurdish’ banners. Such groups regarded the ‘Alawite’, ‘Kafir’ or ‘Arabic’ groups respectively as the ‘other’ and hence, as enemies to be defeated. These new sub-national identities naturally came to oppose one another in addition to their initial common enemy.
As such, the people were forced to engage in inter-subjective relationships which formed a key factor in the subsequent maelstrom that has characterized the Syrian civil war, moving towards ever increasing sectarianism along the Sunni-Shia, Secular-Islamist and Arab-Kurd splits. Such turbulence lends itself to Assad’s promotion of a self-image as the legitimately elected president and regional champion of the Arab and Shia identity. In accordance, those who had taken up arms against his reign were designated as ‘terrorists’ and ‘Sunni fanatical groups’ who have the illegitimate support of his Western and Gulf enemies. In summary, the contradictory ideas, identities and perceptions are succinctly explained using the constructivism approach as tools to understand the Syrian civil war internally between Assad and the various opposition groups.