The Implications of the Syrian War for New Regional Orders in the Middle East

This paper argues that the impact of the eight-year war in Syria will reverberate across the region for years to come, and explores, in particular, four noteworthy legacies. First, it examines the series of interventions in Syria by regional and foreign powers (including Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) that reconfigured the role of such powers across the region. Second, it reveals the emergence of two opposing alliances in the region, each comprising Arab states, regional Arab and non-Arab powers, global powers and local non-state actors. These or similar alliances may well reappear in other Middle Eastern conflicts. Third, it analyses the striking number and variety of foreign forces that either directly fought in Syria or indirectly supported warring factions. Since 2012, these forces have included at least twenty states and major non-state players, alongside hundreds of smaller tribal, Islamist and secular rebel and pro-Assad groups. Finally, the paper suggests that the international community’s weak response to the untold war crimes on both sides, and its apparent de facto acceptance of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s incumbency, portend continuing regional authoritarian and violent political systems for the foreseeable future.

Authors: 
Details: 
Rome, IAI, September 2018, 17 p.
Attachments: 
Issue: 
Working Papers 12
Publication date: 
30/09/2018

Introduction
1. Key Dynamics
2. The Game-Changer: New Transnational Alliances
3. Lessons from Turkish and American Policies
4. Russia Enhances Its Regional Impact
5. Iran’s Expanding Connections
6. More Intense Iran–Saudi Arabia Rivalry
6.1 More Activist Saudis–Emiratis
6.2 Washington and the “Deal of the Century”
7. Pragmatism among Regional Actors
8. Deep States Will Persist
9. Uncertain Future for Islamists
Conclusion: A Century’s Legacy of Pawns, Proxies and Partners
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