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The regional struggle for Syria

The regional struggle for Syria

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Two years after the beginning of an uprising against President Bashar-al-Assad, Syria is gripped by an ever deepening civil war that is having a significant impact on the entire region. Regional states have emerged as driving forces in the conflict, while they are also battling to contain the impact of tensions rapidly spilling out across the wider region.

In a new report - The regional struggle for Syria - ECFR brings together a collection of essays explaining the competing interests and ambitions of the key regional players. The eight pieces look at the Gulf States, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, the Kurds, Lebanon and Turkey.

In an introductory essay the report’s editors, Julien Barnes-Dacey and Daniel Levy, map out the nature of the unfolding regional conflict, identifying its roots in the struggle for hegemony unleashed by the 2003 Iraq.

Having opened the door to an ascendant Iranian-led and Shia-dominated axis, the Syria war now represents an opportunity for regional Sunni states to reverse this order. Syria has become the battleground for this broader strategic conflict, with devastating, and increasingly sectarian, effect. Other states in the region are complicating the mix with their simultaneous pursuit of more narrow interests, whether they be the strengthening of particular rebel groups, the defence of Israeli security interests or the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region.

Although the conflict is first and foremost a domestic struggle, it has also become the epicentre of a wider struggle with major implications for the shaping of a region in flux, significantly complicating prospects for a political resolution aimed at stemming the fighting.

“The risk of regional contagion from the Syrian conflict is substantial. Greater efforts must be made to insulate Syria’s neighbours from the instability, rather than draw them into the fighting, if the violence, suffering, and sectarian incitement are not to seep out across the region.” Daniel Levy

“Given the complex picture of competing interests, it is clear that regional players will have to be part of the solution in Syria. Trying to exclude key actors such as Iran from any proposed talks will only doom any political process to failure.” Julien Barnes-Dacey
Two years after the beginning of an uprising against President Bashar-al-Assad, Syria is gripped by an ever deepening civil war that is having a significant impact on the entire region. Regional states have emerged as driving forces in the conflict, while they are also battling to contain the impact of tensions rapidly spilling out across the wider region.

In a new report - The regional struggle for Syria - ECFR brings together a collection of essays explaining the competing interests and ambitions of the key regional players. The eight pieces look at the Gulf States, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, the Kurds, Lebanon and Turkey.

In an introductory essay the report’s editors, Julien Barnes-Dacey and Daniel Levy, map out the nature of the unfolding regional conflict, identifying its roots in the struggle for hegemony unleashed by the 2003 Iraq.

Having opened the door to an ascendant Iranian-led and Shia-dominated axis, the Syria war now represents an opportunity for regional Sunni states to reverse this order. Syria has become the battleground for this broader strategic conflict, with devastating, and increasingly sectarian, effect. Other states in the region are complicating the mix with their simultaneous pursuit of more narrow interests, whether they be the strengthening of particular rebel groups, the defence of Israeli security interests or the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region.

Although the conflict is first and foremost a domestic struggle, it has also become the epicentre of a wider struggle with major implications for the shaping of a region in flux, significantly complicating prospects for a political resolution aimed at stemming the fighting.

“The risk of regional contagion from the Syrian conflict is substantial. Greater efforts must be made to insulate Syria’s neighbours from the instability, rather than draw them into the fighting, if the violence, suffering, and sectarian incitement are not to seep out across the region.” Daniel Levy

“Given the complex picture of competing interests, it is clear that regional players will have to be part of the solution in Syria. Trying to exclude key actors such as Iran from any proposed talks will only doom any political process to failure.” Julien Barnes-Dacey

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Published by: ECFR, European Council on Foreign Relations on Jul 30, 2013
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09/05/2013

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edited by
  Julien Barnes-Dacey and Daniel Levy
 THE REGIONAL STRUGGLEFOR SYRIA
 
 ABOUT ECFR
The
European Council on Foreign Relations
(ECFR) isthe first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October2007, its objective is to conduct research and promoteinformed debate across Europe on the developmentof coherent, effective and values-based Europeanforeign policy.ECFR has developed a strategy with three distinctiveelements that define its activities:
•
 A pan-European Council.
ECFR has brought togethera distinguished Council of over one hundred andseventy Members – politicians, decision makers,thinkers and business people from the EU’s memberstates and candidate countries – which meets oncea year as a full body. Through geographical andthematic task forces, members provide ECFR staff withadvice and feedback on policy ideas and help withECFR’s activities within their own countries. The Councilis chaired by Martti Ahtisaari, Joschka Fischer andMabel van Oranje.
•
 A physical presence in the main EU member states.
ECFR, uniquely among European think-tanks,has offices in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome,Sofia and Warsaw. In the future ECFR plans to openan office in Brussels. Our offices are platforms forresearch, debate, advocacy and communications.
•
 A distinctive research and policy development process.
ECFR has brought together a team of distinguished researchers and practitioners fromall over Europe to advance its objectives throughinnovative projects with a pan-European focus.ECFR’s activities include primary research, publicationof policy reports, private meetings and publicdebates, ‘friends of ECFR’ gatherings in EU capitalsand outreach to strategic media outlets.ECFR is a registered charity funded by theOpen Society Foundations and other generousfoundations, individuals and corporate entities.These donors allow us to publish our ideas andadvocate for a values- based EU foreign policy.ECFR works in partnership with other think tanksand organisations but does not make grants toindividuals or institutions.
 
 THE REGIONAL STRUGGLE FORSYRIA
Edited by Julien Barnes-Daceyand Daniel Levy
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not takecollective positions. This paper, like all publications of the European Council on Foreign Relations, represents onlythe views of its authors.

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