Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

Pandora’s Box in Syria

28 May 2020 - 13:56
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Anticipating negative externalities of a re-entrenching regime

During 2019, the original Syrian conflict entered its closing phases, except for the battlefields of Idlib and in the north east. As a result, conflict dynamics have become somewhat easier to read, as the regime and its key allies have shifted towards a triumphalist ‘post-war’ narrative and corresponding governance styles, deal-making and decision-making. These developments can be witnessed in three interlinked spheres: security, civil, and political economic practices. Together, they largely form the Assad regime’s political economy, which – although poorly understood due to limited access – is crucial to understand to assess the negative externalities likely to result from its wartime survival and re-entrenchment. The paper analyses six such externalities:

  1. risk of conflict relapse due to economic pressures
  2. the politics of refugees
  3. risks and instrumentalisation of terrorism
  4. regional instability
  5. humanitarian culpability
  6. deterioration of the international legal order.

These externalities are interconnected and emerge from the political economy of the regime – the accumulation of its security, civil and political economic practices. Their nature and volume suggest that the Syrian civil war will plague its neighbors, as well as Europe, for a long time to come. These externalities also focus our attention on the fact that adequate containment strategies should be designed as a matter of urgency, to limit their negative impact.

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