Advertisement

What Went Wrong: Understanding the Trajectory of Syria’s Conflict

  • Raymond Hinnebusch
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter asks why the Syrian uprising did not lead to a democratic transition and instead descended into an intractable proxy war. It first explores the origins of the conflict in the contradictions of the pre-uprising order. It then examines the trajectory of the uprising, examining key turning points: it explains the successful mobilisation of mass protests, in spite of an unfavourable opportunity structure, and analyses why, owing to the choices of hardliners in both government and opposition and among external powers, the window of opportunity for democratic transition was missed. After the failure of democratic transition, why revolution from below did not result is attributed to Syria’s fragmented social structure and government strategies. With the failure of revolution, government “counter-insurgency” might have prevailed, but external intervention on behalf of the opposition cost the government its monopoly of violence and territorial control and tipped Syria into a failed state. Finally, with state failure, competitive regime re-formation led to more exclusivist alternatives—the rump of the government and jihadist counter-government—fighting over the Syrian space.

Bibliography

  1. Abbas, H. (2011, October). The Dynamics of the Uprising in Syria. Arab Reform Brief, 51.Google Scholar
  2. Abboud, S. (2016). Syria. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  3. Ali, A. K. A. (2015). The Security Gap in Syria: Individual and Collective Security in ‘Rebel-Held’ Territories. Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, 4(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fromkin, D. (1989). A Peace to End All Peace; The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and The Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Avon Books.Google Scholar
  5. Ghattas, K. (2011, April 22). Syria’s Spontaneously Organised Protests. BBC News. Retrieved from www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13168276
  6. Guazzone, L., & Pioppi, D. (2009). The Arab State and Neo-liberal Globalization: The Restructuring of the State in the Middle East. Reading: Ithaca Press.Google Scholar
  7. Haddad, B. (2011). Why Syria Is Not Next—So Far. Retrieved from http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/844/why-syria-is-not-next-.-.-.-sofar_with-arabic-translation-
  8. Hassan, H. (2014, June). More than ISIS, Iraq’s Sunni Insurgency. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sada. Retrieved from http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=55930
  9. Heydemann, S. (2007). Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World. Analysis Paper No. 13. Washington, DC: The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  10. Hinnebusch, R. (1990). Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasants. San Francisco: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hinnebusch, R. (2012). Syria: From Authoritarian Upgrading to Revolution? International Affairs, 88(1, January), 95–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hinnebusch, R., & Zintl, T. (2014). Syria: From Reform to Revolt: Politics and International Relations. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hinnebusch, R., et al. (Eds.). (2011). Agriculture and Reform in Syria. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Hobden, S., & Hobson, J. (2002). Historical Sociology of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. International Crisis Group (ICG). (2011). The Syrian People’s Slow Motion Revolution. Brussels and Damascus, 6.Google Scholar
  16. International Crisis Group (ICG). (2013, October). Anything but Politics: The State of Syria’s Political Opposition. Middle East Report.Google Scholar
  17. Itani, F. (2014). Roots and Futures of al-Qaida Offshoots in Syria. Knowledge Program Civil Society in West Asia, Special Bulletin 6, September.Google Scholar
  18. Joya, A. (2012). Syria and the Arab Spring: The Evolution of the Conflict and the Role of Domestic and External and Factors. Ortadog˘u Etütleri, 4(1, July), 40–43.Google Scholar
  19. Khaddour, K. (2015a, July 8). The Asad Regime’s Hold on the Syrian State. Carnegie Middle East Centre. Retrieved from http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/07/08/assad-regime-s-hold-on-syrian-state
  20. Khaddour, K. (2015b). Assad’s Officer Ghetto: Why the Syrian Army Remains Loyal. Retrieved from http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/09/30/assad-s-officer-ghetto-why-syrian-army-remains-loyal
  21. King, S. (2009). The New Authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lesch, D. (2012). The Fall of the House of Asad. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lund, A. (2013a, August 27). The Non-State Militant Landscape in Syria. Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Retrieved from https://ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-non-state-militant-landscape-in-syria
  24. Lund, A. (2013b, July 24). Gangs of Latakia: The Militiafication of the Assad Regime. Syria comment. Retrieved from http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-militiafication-of-the-assad-regime/
  25. Lund, A. (2015, March 2). Who Are the Pro-Asad Militias? Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved from http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/59215?lang=en
  26. Mandour, M. (2013, October 26). Beyond Civil Resistance: The Case of Syria. openDemocracy. Retrieved from www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/maged-mandour/beyond-civil-resistance-case-of-syria
  27. Marx, K. (1852). The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Marxists Internet Archive.Google Scholar
  28. O’Donnell, G., & Schmitter, P. (1986). Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions About Uncertain Democracies, Part 4. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Perthes, V. (2004). Syria Under Bashar al-Asad: Modernisation and the Limits of Change. Adelphi Papers. London: Oxford University Press for IISS.Google Scholar
  30. Phillips, C. (2016). The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Posen, B. (1993). The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict. Survival, 35(1, Spring), 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Samaha, N. (2017, February 8). Survival Is Syria’s Strategy. Report Syria, The Century Foundation. Retrieved from https://tcf.org/content/report/survival-syrias-strategy/
  33. Seelye, K. (2011, March 28). Syria Unrest ‘Cannot Be Contained’. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/03/28/syria-unrest-cannot-be-contained-dissidents-say.html
  34. Stanfield, G. (2013, July). The Remaking of Syria, Iraq and the Wider Middle East. RUSI Briefing Paper.Google Scholar
  35. Stephan, M. J., & Chenoweth, E. (2008). Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. International Security, 33(1), 7–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wieland, C. (2012). Syria – A Decade of Lost Chances: Repression and Revolution from Damascus Spring to Arab Spring. Seattle: Cune Press.Google Scholar
  37. Worth, R. (2013, June 19). The Price of Loyalty in Syria. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/magazine/the-price-of-loyalty-in-syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=2&pagewanted=all&

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond Hinnebusch
    • 1
  1. 1.University of St AndrewsSt AndrewsScotland

Personalised recommendations