Political science: Do Syrians in Diaspora invest in their specialization

Enab Baladi-Diya Assi

Many young Syrians from the diaspora have entered the world of decision-making and influence with the aim of specializing in political science at various universities. Many have not been able to invest that degree in a job or career because the regulations of certain countries do not allow foreigners, even those who have been granted citizenship, to participate in national politics.

In this report Enab Baladi tries to highlight the experiences of Syrians in Canada and Turkey, a model for two different countries in terms of state structure, to learn more about the motivations, difficulties, vulnerabilities and success factors.

Celine Kasem, 22, a young Circassian woman from the occupied Golan Heights in Syria, spent most of her childhood traveling between Saudi Arabia and the United States until she sought refuge in Canada in 2016.

Despite living across seas and oceans and previously unable to visit Syria, the popular movement in Syria has instilled a “spirit of return” in her since 2011. Her physical distance did not prevent her from being there for her country in emergencies.

After graduating from high school in Canada in 2018, Celine studied political science and graduated this year from the University of Ontario in east-central Canada with honors.

The Syrian complex was the impetus for choosing this course because, according to her, it occupied an important part of her thoughts for eleven years.

From studies to work

Speaking about whether the university offers its students the opportunity to gain political experience through internships, Celine said Enab Baladi that the university has given them the opportunity of employment or so-called “placement” in a field related to their field of study and according to the individual’s desire.

Celine wanted to spend the four-month recruitment phase supporting new refugees arriving in Canada to be referred from the university to the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association (CESA), which specializes in supporting new refugees with language classes and events.

There are many organizations offering employment or volunteering opportunities such as the Syrian Canadian Foundation which aims to facilitate and encourage cultural exchange for people from diverse backgrounds within Canadian society.

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Celine is currently working with the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) in Turkey alongside Director of Detainee Affairs and former detainee Omar al-Shughari. She started working with the said organization as a two-month volunteer until she proved her skills.

Celine Kasem on her first visit to Syria and al-Ra'i village in northern Aleppo with activist Omar al-Shughari - July 21, 2022 (Celine Kasem)

Celine Kasem during her first visit to Syria and al-Ra’i village in northern Aleppo with activist Omar al-Shughari – July 21, 2022 (Celine Kasem)

Country conditions and laws

In Canada, the state’s local government attracts students or recent political science graduates and encourages them to get involved in the local business system to find new and innovative solutions to the state’s problems.

A foreigner who is not a citizen of the country can also work in Canadian government institutions, and they are equal to citizens except for the right to vote.

According to Celine, getting involved in politics or entering government posts in Canada is not linked to the provision of assessment tests, such as the Public Organization Job Selection Test (KPSS) in Turkey; she confirmed that it is related to the qualifications of the people themselves.

If the graduate cannot find a job, he can apply to the job center to find the most suitable job for his specialty.

In Turkey it is impossible to take part in political life. Nation-states established on the basis of race, language, and religion do not admit those who see them as invaders or “Waste‘, as some Turkish politicians say, to integrate with them, which they see as a threat to national security.

Abdul Kader Bajiko, 26, from Hama in central Syria, studied international relations and political science at the University of Niğde in southeastern Turkey. However, one of the disadvantages of this degree was that students were not provided with an internship, which kept them stuck in theories and political history.

Although Abdul Kader Bajiko, who graduated in 2020, obtained citizenship and did military service in Turkey, he never considered joining Turkish parties due to their large numbers and the complexity of their structure, he said Enab Baladi.

Abdul Kader does not know of any Syrian specialists who have joined Turkish parties. The work of his acquaintances, who claimed to have joined a Turkish party, was limited to informally accompanying a party member, attending events and conferences, and eating “simit” (Turkish bagels).

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Food versus Ambition

Ambition plays a role in the desire of those who want to study political science. However, it is necessary to arm yourself with the tools of knowledge and break the locks with game art.

“Only Allah knows the level of enthusiasm with which I entered the industry,” said the young man, who is currently looking for a job to earn a living after graduating, assuring that he is in his Area not going to waste a chance future.

The only obstacle for Abdul Kader, who missed the opportunity to go to Switzerland to attend a training course entitled How to Deal with a Child during Wars, was proficiency in English, which is a requirement for participation was.

He also hasn’t even tried to check how to get involved in Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces because it’s limited to certain individuals, he said, noting that many political science students and graduates are more righteous than some of those involved in the process .

Abdul Kader now works in Istanbul in the shipping and logistics industry, which is currently much more important to him than politics, “Because you earn your living with sweat, blood and tears,” as he says.

Abdul Kader pointed to the opportunity for foreigners to work in Turkish research and study centers that previously attracted Syrian political scientists, such as the ORSAM Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc) and the USAK Center for Middle East and African Studies.

But it all depends on good luck, good self-preparation, and sometimes the presence of a medium, he says.

Professional requirements and tools

Celine believes that in order to be successful in this field it is necessary to have many qualities, the first of which is openness to other cultures, acceptance of others and the ability to deal with all races without discrimination.

She justified this by saying that the Syrian situation requires expanding spheres of influence to raise the voice of the cause and that this requires smooth action to achieve the goal.

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Celine emphasized the importance of mastering the English language as it is important in taking the voice of the cause to most of the world.

She also hoped for more women to be involved in Syrian politics, noting that men had been the most important component in managing the Syrian file for 11 years.

She said that finding a new concept of thinking and inventing the solution will be multifaceted, making women’s voices heard and drawing inspiration from successful Western experiences and models.

This profession is not viewed as mere theorizing, according to Celine, who pointed out that it is not friendly. As diplomatic as the politics may seem, brutal fighting is taking place.

She explained that graduates generally don’t just stumble upon opportunities upon graduation because there isn’t a specific description of what they could do.

Conversely, those who want to pursue a career in this field must seize the opportunity themselves and not lounge on the couch proud of their university degree, which can no longer be relied on in politics.

Lack of a formative incubator

Mutassim al-Rifai, a member of the youth committee in the program of the federal government (democracy life) and member of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen party, argues that the political reluctance of Syrians is partly due to the general frustration and deliberate marginalization of young people by opposition groups Syrian political entities and the inability to use practical and academic experiences of Syrians in the diaspora.

Some countries’ sensitivity to an organization that defends Syrians and demands their rights played a role in the Syrians’ downfall.

Al-Rifai stressed through electronic correspondence with Enab Baladi the need to organize Syrians into political and civil entities to defend their rights and work to open channels of communication with their counterparts in the host countries and even with those who oppose their empowerment in their societies.

Although practice was a cornerstone of political life, Celine emphasized the importance of studying the major at university and that her four years of learning the fundamentals of the profession had been worthwhile in building a clear methodology in political consciousness.


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