Coordinated by Aurelian GIUGĂL

 

Revisiting International and Regional Responses to the War in Syria with a Special Emphasis on Turkish Approach

 

Engin AKÇAY

 

Asst. Prof. Dr., Political Science and International Relations, Turgut Özal University

 

Mehmet Turan ŞAHİN

 

Department of Politics, University of Vienna

 

Abstract: The on-going war in Syria has become the hot topic in the Middle East, as well as for the United Nations. Both regional and international actors showed their own political perspective, from the beginning. This paper scrutinizes how the aforementioned responses interacted and how the actors are politically positioned. By revisiting the responses of the main actors, it aims to portray the whole case. In elaborating the responses, special emphasis is given to Turkish approach which is of significant importance. As the case has a sui generis complexity, the local, regional and international dimension of the problem is analysed to clarify the picture. The paper indicates that the response of the international community underwent a change which is paradoxically both the reason and the result. 

 

Keywords: Arab Awakening, Responsibility to Protect, Syria, Turkey, United Nations. 

 

 

1.       INTRODUCTION

 

The Arab Awakening which was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions, started in Tunisia at the end of 2010 and spread across the Middle East in early 2011. At the beginning there was a very great hope that finally democracy would arrive to the Arab World en masse. However by the end of 2014, events did not yield the expected results. The great expectation that the Arab Spring would finally bring long-waited democracy to the Arab region was not materialized. A coup d’état had taken place in Egypt on 3 July 2013 and then incumbent President Mohamed Morsi was removed from the power. Egypt now has a new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was the military leader of the coup. Libya has never become stable ever since the overthrow of its ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. There is very little expectation for a change in Saudi Arabia. Yemen has not become a stable place. The only hope is still in Tunisia where events started. However, the most dramatic and bloody events have taken place in Syria. 

The conflict in Syria started in March 2011 following a series of peaceful demonstrations that took place in some cities across the country. The response of the Assad regime was very brutal towards these demonstrations. So clashes started between the government forces and the opposition. Even though there are many humanitarian conflicts throughout the world, the conflict in Syria dwarfs other hot spots like Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic etc… It is told by the end of 2014; more than 200.000 people lost their lives in the ensuing clashes up to 5 million children need emergency help. The tragedy is that the conflict’s size, duration and complexity hinder UN’s ability to raise money to help and alleviate the problem. Moreover, the world community has almost lost its interest for the conflict in Syria. For instance[i], the money raised for the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 was much more than the total money rose for the entire Syrian civil war. It is claimed that man-made disasters attract less attention than natural disasters and the conflict in Syria is a man-made disaster.

 

 

2.       HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND SYRIA

 

In order to understand the current events taking place in the Middle East in general and Syria in particular, the historical background of the region is of importance. With the Battle of Marj Dabiq on 24 August 1516 near the town of Dabiq, 44 km north of Aleppo, the Ottomans under Sultan Selim I conquered Syria and most of the rest of Arabian Peninsula and Egypt in two years[ii]. Thus for the coming four hundred years, most of the Arab lands remained under the Ottoman rule.

With the battle of Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman Empire began losing territories after almost 400 years of expansion. It initially lost the Eastern European lands where Christians were mostly living. With the spread of nationalist ideas after the French Revolution, this process accelerated. Nationalism first affected non-Muslim nations. Then it reached to the Muslim populations of the Ottoman State and thus to Arabs. The idea of living under the administration of same ethnicity was a death knell for the Empires of the world and thus, for the Ottomans.

 At the beginning of the 20th century in the Arab lands, some practises of Turkish nationalists like trying to teach Turkish language forcefully to Arab children in Lebanon and Syria also attracted negative feelings towards the Ottoman Empire. Initial rebellion against the Ottoman rule began in Egypt under Mohammad Ali at the beginning of the 19th century.  Later on, it spread to central Arabia with religious ideas of Wahhabis and to the Levant (Syria and Lebanon) with nationalistic ideas. When the American missionaries opened up the Syrian Protestant College in 1866, the first nationalist generation[iii] who are western educated would grow up at this college. Arab nationalism started with a claim that peoples of the Arab World, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea, constitute one nation bound together by common linguistic, cultural, religious and historic heritage.

 

 

2.1 The Sykes- Picot and Balfour Agreements

 

Without considering some of the historic agreements in the Middle East like the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Balfour Declaration and subsequent events, it is difficult to understand why the current layout of the Middle East is as the way it is.

“The Asia Minor Agreement” was named as the “Sykes-Picot Agreement” since it’s negotiated by the British Sir Mark Sykes and the French diplomat François Georges Picot. It was a secret agreement signed by the United Kingdom and France on 16 May 1916.[iv] The Russian Empire and Italy were also notified from the agreement and Russia was going to be awarded some territories of the Ottoman Empire under this agreement as well. The agreement aimed to divide the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into areas which were in control of British and French, in case of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. A future Arab State or Confederation of States was also envisaged to be formed under the protection of the allied states in what are now Syria, Iraq and Jordan. There were also some parts which would be administered directly or controlled somehow. Palestine was to be left under an international administration. According to the Agreement, France was allocated the South-Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Arabs and the world community were not aware of this agreement until the Bolshevik revolution had taken place in Russia in October 1917. The Bolsheviks exposed the agreement to the world community in Izvestia and Pravda newspapers on 23 November 1917 to the dismay of the Arabs as they were promised one unified Arab state.           

The Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour declaration are seen as turning points in Western-Arab relations as well. In the Balfour Declaration, the United Kingdom government pledged the creation of a homeland for Jews in Palestine. Both agreements destroyed the trust between Arabs and the Western powers especially that of Britain. Despite promises, a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria in exchange for Arabs siding with British forces against the Ottoman Empire was not materialized. 

In a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw[v] commented;

"A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past ... The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private  at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis—again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."

Straw was criticizing his country’s stance during the recreation years of the Middle East. Considerably this paradox of interest somehow continued in the Middle East as barrier in front of the regional, peace and stability.

 

 

 

2.2                The Independence of Arab Lands from the Ottoman Empire

 

The Ottomans were administering the Hejaz (present day Mecca – Medina region in Saudi Arabia) through sharifs who were direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammed. Already dismayed by some of the applications[vi] of the Young Turks in Levant, Abdullah, the son of Sharif Hussain bin Ali, was approached by the British Secretary of State for War. Lord Kitchener asked for the help of Arab nations against the Ottomans on the side of the Triple Entente.[vii] In return he promised for the independence of all Arab lands under one unified Arab state. Abdullah was already independent minded and accepted this offer and encouraged his father and brothers alongside this offer. Among the nation-state ideals, a secret initiative called Young Arab Association[viii] was established in Paris in 1911. Interestingly the members of this intellectual group were Syrian.

The Arab troops led by another son of Sharif Hussein, Emir Faisal and supported by the British forces captured Damascus from the Ottomans in October 1918 and thus ended 400 years of the Ottoman rule. By then, the Sharif of Mecca, Hussain bin Ali had been declared as ‘the King of the Arabs’ in Mecca. Despite the fact that Sharif Hussain and his sons were promised an independent and unified Arab homeland including all territories in the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Lebanon were placed under the French mandate and Palestine under British control at the San Remo conference in June 1920. Then French forces occupied Damascus and Faisal was forced to flee.

In August 1920, France proclaimed a new state of Greater Lebanon. France also created three autonomous regions in Syria, one for Alawites on the coast and the Druze in the south. There were sporadic rebellions against the French occupation in Syria. That is why only one political unit was created in the later stages. In 1936, France agreed to Syrian independence in principle with the condition of maintaining French military and economic dominance. During the World War II, Syria came under the control of the Axis powers. However General De Gaulle promised to end French mandate in 1941. Syria gained her full independence in 1943 however French troops stayed on until 1946.[ix]

 

 

2.3                The Middle East and Arab Politics

 

Even though, there are other ethnic groups in the Middle East, the dominant group is by and large are Arabs. As of 2014, the Arabs have 22 states almost adjacent to each other. With some local changes, literal Arabic can be understood from Morocco to Oman. The dominant religion Islam is also almost the same. So one can ask why there are so many different Arab states and thus conflicts. In fact, a high number of the Arab countries is a legacy of their colonial past. Another dimension is tribalism. Tribalism is another significant case as the Arabic society in many places is still a traditional tribal society. Therefore, fragmentation is easy to happen.

Moreover, even though the religion is the same, there are different religious disciplines adhered to, like different versions of Sunnism and Shiism. In terms of religio-political perspective Syria is of crucial importance. How religio-politics[x] matters in the Middle East and Syria can be easily observed at the diversity in religions and/or sects. Accordingly, while Russia makes official statements as the protector of Orthodox community in Syria, arguing[xi] that the UN does not care the Christians in the Middle East; Germans have diplomatic missions in Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo and also protestant missionaries at the region from the beginning of 20th century. On the other hand, Syria and partly the Middle East are included under the framework of Promised Lands which has divine sources in Jewish faith. In particular, Latakia is the centre for Alawism while the ruling elite in Damascus professionally revises its political discourse towards the ethnic and sectarian diversity, in accordance with the national balance of power. Considering this puzzle as a whole, it can be said that political analysis on Syria should definitely focus on religious and geographical facts, as the religeopolitics[xii] is the most critic phenomena in these territories. 

It can be recalled that Arab Awakening previously started when the Ottoman State began to become weak. Arab nationalism was the idealist base for a unified Arab state. According to an analysis[xiii] the Arab approach was literary at the second half of the 19th century, and then evolved to liberal-political form till the First World War, and just after anti-western/imperialist. Mostly being a base for the power struggle between the NATO and Warsaw Pacts during the Cold War period, many Arab territories witnessed with military coups, internal conflicts, instability and chaos. As a consequence a European type of democracy has never taken root in the Arab lands till now. As the present process of Arab Awakening is not going well, it can be claimed that there is still a very long way for the Arab countries to espouse democracy and the rule of law.

In the view of Sadik Al-Azm, there are two deeply ingrained and highly regressive tendencies in the Arab political life. The first tendency is that given the past experience, Arab political changes and shifts will continue. The second tendency is the persistence of the ancient regime. He explains the worst possible persistence of the old regime happens when it persists in the very lives, behaviours, habits and decisions of the revolutionaries themselves.[xiv] He predicted the current reversals in the Arab awakening by looking at the history of the Arab countries. However he is also optimistic that the changes will continue despite hindrances.

According to the UNDP’s Arab Human Development Report of 2002[xv], there are three structural problems of the Arab world; freedom, knowledge and women’s power deficit. It also points to fragile political, social, economic and ecological structures. Arab awakening only tackles the first deficit with not much success.[xvi] Therefore, there are crucial steps to be taken by the Arab states in general and Syria in particular to have stability.

 

 

3.       TAKING THE LID OFF THE SYRIAN CASE

 

The Syrian Arab Republic has an area of 185,180 sq km and shares a northern border with Turkey, in the east and southeast with Iraq, in the south with Jordan and in the west with Lebanon and Israel. Syria also has a Mediterranean coastline of some 193 kilometres between Lebanon and Turkey. The population is estimated[xvii] to be 22,087,048 by the end of 2014. It consists[xviii] of 90.3 percent Arab and the rests are Kurds, Turkmens, and Armenians etc.  The total population consists of 87% Muslims, of which 74% are Sunni and 13% are Alawi, Ismaili and Shia. Christians from various denominations make up 10 percent of the population. Before the civil war, there were almost half a million Palestinian refugees residing in nine official and three unofficial camps.

Syria has become fully independent in 1946. After the creation of Israel in 1948, Arab states including Syria began attacking Israel. However they were defeated. This led to a series of short-lived military governments in Syria, followed by an unsuccessful experiment of Union with Nasser's Egypt between 1958 and 1961. The Golan Heights is still under Israeli occupation since 1967.

Michel Aflaq and Salah-al-din Bitar found the Arab Socialist Baath Party in 1947. The Ba’ath was a revolutionary party based on the ideas of Arab nationalism and socialism. In 1963 Baathist army officers seized power and Amin al-Hafez became the president of Syria.[xix] In 1966 a radical wing of the Party seized control and overthrown the President al-Hafez and expelled the original founders of the Party like Michel Aflaq who eventually established themselves in Iraq, thus instituting a rivalry between Damascus and Baghdad. The Syrian radicals adopted leftist policies by siding with Moscow. That further isolated Syria from its neighbours.

Hafez al-Assad, one of the most influential members of the Baath Party, was the Minister of Defence when he staged a coup in November 1970. He ousted President Nur al-Din al-Atasi and imprisoned his opponents like Salah Jadid in the Ba’ath Party.[xx] Before Hafez al-Assad, 21 coups had happened in Syria.[xxi]

Hafez al-Assad introduced a constitution which stipulated holding of elections for National Assembly and the Presidency. In 1971, the people’s parliament was established and Hafez al-Assad was elected president for a seven year term in a plebiscite in Syria. In the following years, political parties were formed. However these measures were recalled by the creation of a new constitution in 1973 that guaranteed the leading role for the Baath Party. Under the 1973 constitution, Hafez al-Assad was given the power to veto any parliamentary decision, acting as a supreme commander of the armed forces, serving as the secretary general both regional and national command of the Baath Party and acting as the head of government. Assad was even given power to choose the successor. First riots against his rule occurred as he dropped the constitutional requirement that the president must be a Muslim. The riots were suppressed by the army.                

 

 

3.1                Hama Massacres (1982)

 

Assad ruled with an iron fist detaining and terrorizing anyone who dared to speak out against his government. The brutality of the Assad regime initiated a huge growth in support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition movement that has been in place since the Baath Party seized the power in 1963. It had active membership[xxii] around 5.000 to 7.000 in 1975. As anti-Assad sentiments grew, the Muslim Brotherhood saw its members soared. It began to use force against the Assad regime and target the members of it. That was a crucial mistake where the balance of power was in favour of Assad.

In June 1980, Hafez al-Assad was nearly assassinated while welcoming the president of Mali to Syria. To demoralize the Muslim Brotherhood, Hafez al-Assad retaliated by ordering the execution of around 1.000 prisoners at the Tadmor prison many of whom were thought to have had links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Rifaat al-Assad, the brother of Hafez al-Assad, claims in a YouTube video shot at an event at the sidelines of Paris Conference that not only in the Tadmor prison but also in many prisons, prisoners were executed. He also denies his involvement in the Hama Massacres as widely suggested.[xxiii]

The Assad regime then followed a ruthless crackdown by detaining and terrifying thousands of individuals suspected of being members of Muslim Brotherhood. Assad’s crackdown reached its climax on 2nd of February 1982 in a well know siege of Hama that lasted more than three weeks and came to be known as the Hama Massacre. After the initial unsuccessful attempts to detain some of the Brotherhood suspects and crush their armed resistance in Hama, tanks were used indiscriminately and engaged direct artillery bombardment of Hama neighbourhoods. Assad’s troops pounded Hama with artillery fire for several days and with the city in ruins, bulldozers moved in and flattened neighbourhoods. The Muslim brothers were only a portion of those targeted. Anyone residing in Hama became a victim of Assad’s massacre. The siege and bombardment lasted for three weeks. The death toll during the siege had reached between 20.000 to 40.000 people, many of whom were women, children and elderly.[xxiv] Ancient Hama was destroyed. As the news of Hama reached other Syrian cities, that created a huge fear among the rest of the population. That fear lasted until the next rebellion in 2011.

The true extent of the Hama incidents was not immediately known in the world community. It did not attract too much attention. It became only widely known after the new Syrian conflict. It was the bloodiest assault by an Arab ruler against his own people in modern times.[xxv] Hama Massacre shows that the civil war currently going on in Syria is not something new in Syria. The predecessor of the current events happened in 1982 too.  That is why we claim that the 1982 Hama Massacre should have been carefully examined before engaging with the current conflict. In that massacre, both the characteristics of the current regime and the opposition in Syria were almost the same. That is very prone to use of force brutally. Also in the Hama incident, opposition’s character was to use force without considering the sheer firepower of the opponent army. Iranian revolution was at its infancy at that time. However they interestingly acted as they act in the present civil war and supported Hafez al-Assad regime. 

Hafez al-Assad ruled the country until his death on 10 June 2000. Unfortunately democratic ideals never took root in Syria and instead the nation underwent much political instability ever since its full independence in 1946.

 

 

3.2          The Rule of Bashar Al-Assad

 

On 17 July 2000, Bashar al-Assad, son of the late Hafez al-Assad was inaugurated as the new President. He received 97 percent of the votes in the presidential elections. Bashar was not supposed to be president initially as his brother Basil was expected to be the next president. However when Basil was killed in an accident, Bashar was left without any choice. As Bashar was a British educated ophthalmologist, there was a hope that things would be different this time and there would be positive political and economic reforms. In the beginning of his term, political discussion groups were allowed to meet even though freedom of expression and association were still limited.

In 2002, senior USA officials included Syria in a list of states that make-up an “axis of evil”. Syria was accused of acquiring weapons of mass destruction by Undersecretary of State John Bolton. In 2004, the USA imposed economic sanctions on Syria over what it called support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq.[xxvi] Bashar al-Assad became the first president of Syria who ever visited Turkey. The trip marked the end of decades of frosty relations. However Turkey’s ties with the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) also played a role in the development of relations with Turkey. Turkey began to defend Syria and tried to smooth the approach of the USA and the EU against Syria. In April 2007, US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi met President Assad in Damascus. She became the highest-placed US politician to visit Syria in those years. In May 2007 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in the first contact of its kind for many years. Moreover, EU relaunched dialogue with Syria. So during the first term of his presidency, the world’s approach was changing towards the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Bashar al-Assad was elected for a second term in May 2007. Subsequently Syria-Turkey relations dramatically gained momentum with positive outcomes. Based on Turkey’s Zero Problem Policy, a Joint Political Declaration on the Establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council[xxvii] was convened among Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It was a turning point to go a step further in enhancing bilateral relations. Relative stability continued until the anti-government protests in the Southern province of Daraa in March 2011. Influenced by major uprisings in the other parts of Arab world, the protestors were demanding the repeal of the Emergency Law[xxviii], the legalization of political parties and the removal of corrupt local officials. Thus, the internal peace and development process in Syria was interrupted, as well as the strategic partnership process with Turkey. 

 

 

3.3                The Civil War in Syria

 

When some teenagers painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall in the southern city of Daraa in March 2011, this became the spark of the bloody events in Syria. The teenagers were arrested and tortured. When crowds demonstrated against the arrests and tortures, security forces opened fire on demonstrators and killed several of them. That triggered nationwide protests demanding President Assad’s resignation. Hundreds of thousands demonstrators were taking to the streets in towns and cities across Syria by July 2011.[xxix]

Bashar al-Assad responded the demands with a mix of concessions and force. The Emergency Law which allowed arrests without charge was repealed after 48 years of enforcement. New laws were approved which permitted political activities. Political prisoners were released. These were concessions but they were not very effective. However protests and demonstration spread to the whole of Syria. To quell the protests, forces loyal to al-Assad opened fire on the protests. That coupled with mass detention of protesters, tortures, rape and enforced disappearances and losses under detentions. Human rights violations transformed into a systematic state policy in Syria.[xxx]

The protesters’ resolve were hardened with the use of military force to crush the dissent. Initially protesters took up arms to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas. Syria descended into civil war as rebels battled government forces for control of cities, towns and the countryside. The Assad government lost most of the control of countryside by 2012. Fighting reached Damascus and the second biggest city of Aleppo. Then Iran, its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah and Russia rushed to the support of the Assad regime with money, weapons and manpower.

The Syrian rebellion started spontaneous, leaderless and lacking strategy. That created a very fragmented opposition which eventually led to power struggles and infighting among various opposition groups.[xxxi] Even though there were international players ready to support the opposition, its multipartite feature prevented or negated the support given to them.

The Syrian conflict created an enormous negative impact in many dimensions. According to the World Bank, the economy contracted 2 percent in 2011 and 20 percent in 2012. Tourism, retail trade, transportation, communications, mining and manufacture were affected badly. Output and employment collapsed in the trade sector. Education system was also badly affected from the conflict. There were about 4.000 schools either destroyed or used as a shelter for internally displaced persons.[xxxii] UNHCR underlines that reaching over 3 million, the registered Syrian refugees continue their life in the neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, by the end of 2014.

Extensive sanctions were imposed on Bashar al-Assad regime by the international community to force the Syrian government to stop using violence against anti-government demonstrations. However they did not become effective. The EU, the Arab League, United States and Turkey imposed economic sanctions but they have not produced any concrete results. Although Turkey, at first, tried bilateral diplomatic channels with the Syrian authorities at the highest level, it did not work. All the steps taken by international community have been limited and softer in comparison to Russia-Iran block which was clearly pro-Assad regime and/or status quo.

The way forward suggested by the opposition is to have a transitional government. In this case, Bashar al-Assad must be out of the game as a president. However with the failures of the opposition to gain decisive success in the battlefields, this option is no longer on the table forcefully.

By the end of 2014, Assad forces are not able to control northern and eastern Syria where the opposition forces cannot capture any new land. Also the opposition side is very fragmented. Moreover some unforeseen actors took their places at this shaky ground. By 2014, there is now the phenomenon of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[xxxiii] or Islamic State (IS), and al-Nusrah. Both of them are accused of gross human right violations and terror. The international community is now very ambivalent towards the new facts on the ground. The current circumstances partly were in fact the result of failure in international sanctions and pressure. As a consequence, the absence of clear victory among the actors means the status quo in today’s Syria. While the century-long order ends[xxxiv] in the Middle East, it vitally matters for the related actors how to respond to the happenings in the region generally and in Syria particularly.

 

 

4           SCRUTINIZNG INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL RESPONSES TO THE

CONFLICT

 

International communities’ response to the conflict in Syria has been mixed. While some supported the government, others supported the opposition. Initial reaction to the conflict occurred as condemnation of the Syrian government’s heavy handed approach towards the democratic demonstrations. For instance, the United Nations (UN), the Arab League and Western governments immediately condemned the actions of the Syrian regime. On the other hand, Russia and China as the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) played crucial roles in favouring the Assad regime. They prevented attempts to create sanctions against Syria by vetoing them.

As for the UN-backed international peace conference to discuss the Syrian problem First Geneva Conference convened on 30 June 2012 and it called for “the establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. The transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” The communiqué was approved by the Secretaries General of the UN and the Arab League and representatives of China, France, Russian Federation, the UK, the USA, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and the EU. 

However no big improvement happened on the ground as the situation continued to worsen in Syria. Upon this a new Geneva conference was convened as a follow-up to the Geneva I conference. International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi was mediating between the Syrian government and the opposition. Russia and the USA co-sponsored the Montreux meeting. While Syrian foreign minister Muallem called on foreign powers to stop “supporting terrorism” and to lift sanctions against Damascus. Opposition called for the removal of al-Assad for the establishment of transitional government. However there was no compromise on the removal of Assad for a government of national unity. Iran, one of the main supporters of al-Assad regime was not invited to the second conference.

As to the current situation in Syria, it has three problematic dimensions at local; not only the unchanged regime and the weak opposition but also the new actors like ISIL and El-Nusra, are stated as the emergent phenomena. Since August 2014, the external interference in the targets via nearly 1200 air strikes[xxxv] which is carried out by manned and unmanned aircrafts shows that ISIL has not lethally affected by the strikes. This fact leads one to reconsider the way of positioning and searching for a solution which satisfies the sides at all. 

To have a comprehensive understanding the approaches of the main actors that have closely involved in the case is of crucial importance. Hence on the one hand the UN, the USA, and Russia as the international actors and Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon and Hezbollah, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the regional actors on the other hand, will be put under the scope in terms of their stances to the Syrian case. Turkish approach will be taken as a final perspective to be able to see the whole picture pertaining to the knotty Syrian problem. 

 

 

4.1                The UN

 

The UN is the international organ responsible for the protection of world peace. However because of the quarrelling of the UN Security Council Members, it has not become very effective in the Syrian conflict despite the sheer number of people killed and displaced there. As an ally of the al-Assad regime, Russian Federation and China with their veto power prevented the passing of many resolutions that would be beneficial to the Syrian people.

The first reaction of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, occurred as Syrian authorities were condemned for the use of force against the protesters. He described the action of Syria as “unacceptable” on 18 March 2011. On 22 March 2011, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was established by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations during the Syrian civil war.

The first statement by the UNSC was issued on 3 August 2011 and condemned the brutal repression of protesters. It was a non-binding statement. Two Resolutions of UNSC condemning the Assad government and calling an immediate halt to military action were vetoed by the Russian Federation and China on 4 October 2011 and 4 February 2012. The proposed resolutions were also aiming establishment of targeted sanctions on the Syrian regime. When it was realized that the vetoes of Russia and China would not be overcome, a UN General Assembly resolution was proposed and adapted by the UN General Assembly on 16 February 2012. Russia, China and 10 other countries again voted against the resolution. Since it was adapted at the UN General Assembly, it was non-binding.

On 21 April 2012, the UNSC agreed to pass the Supervision Mission in Syria. It envisaged the deployment of 300 unarmed observers to Syria for a period up to 90 days. It was also called the passage of the Annan peace plan. The UNSMIS mandate came to an end at midnight on 19 August 2012 without any big success on the ground.

The Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the UN) Peace Plan for Syria was a joint initiative by the Arab League and the UN. It was launched in March 2012. It was the first detailed attempt to solve the Syrian conflict., Kofi Annan submitted a six-point peace plan to the UNSC on 16 March 2012, basically asking the Syrian regime “to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people”, stop fighting, pullback military concentrations from towns, while simultaneously the envoy would seek similar commitments from the Syrian opposition and other “elements”. However since the parties did not adhere to it, the attempt became unsuccessful at the end.

Syria never had nuclear weapons instead it had one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons. When the conflict started the Syrian government declared that the toxic arsenal was secure and would never be used “inside Syria”. However reports of chemical attacks began to surface in early 2013. In the Ghouta agricultural belt around Damascus, depending upon different reporting, between 300 and 1430 people were killed with the rockets filled with sarin gas on 21 August 2013. On the issue of chemical weapons, fortunately the UNSC acted unanimously and with the Resolution 2118, Syria agreed to surrender its chemical weapons.

The vetoes by Russia and China have prevented the use of force against the Syrian regime. They were fearful that an intervention resembling to Libya, Bosnia and Kosovo would be repeated. Of course the proper approval of the UNSC to use force was not there in some of these conflicts but there was at least tacit approval or silence of Russia and China towards them.

The UNSC have not demanded that the individuals perpetrating crimes against the men, women and children of Syria are held responsible.[xxxvi] This is really not a good image for an organization which is responsible for the protection of human rights in the World. Therefore, the UNSC became kind of a realpolitik base for the struggle of the permanent members. 

 

 

4.2          The USA

 

The USA has been one of the most important players in the Middle East ever since the demise of the UK and France in the region in the first half of the 20th Century. It has not always followed a principled, prodemocracy policy in the Middle East. It sometimes bargained with autocrats to keep the status quo.[xxxvii] It sometimes gave the impression that democracy can only be supported if it serves the interests of the USA.[xxxviii] The prevention of terrorism, protection of Israel, spread of democracy, unhindered flow of oil from the region looks like the foreign policy goals of the USA in the Middle East.

When the killings started in Syria in 2011, there was a general expectation that Syria would be another hotspot where the USA would intervene militarily. However things did not evolve as expected. In a statement on Syria on 18 March 2011, Obama administration declared their position that "The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, and believes that governments, including the Syrian government, must address the legitimate aspirations of their people."[xxxix]

The Syrian government did not heed the international community and used force against his own people. As a result President Obama imposed sanctions on Assad and other senior Syrian officials on 18 March 2011. On 20 May 2011, the US called Assad to reform or step down. The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated on 12 July 2011 that Assad had lost “legitimacy” to rule Syria and the US government imposed new economic sanctions on 10 August 2011. On 18 August 2011, Obama called al-Assad explicitly to step down for the first time and imposed the strongest financial action so far against the Syrian regime and stated that "The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way ... For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."[xl] Obama was expressing his support for the principle of self-determination in Syria. This was again a soft discourse reflecting a diplomatic approach but nothing more than precatory words.

The red line for the US was not the sheer number of killings in Syria but was the use of chemical weapons. Obama stated on 20 August 2012 that if chemical weapons were used in Syria, the US may intervene in the conflict. However when chemical weapons were used in the Ghouta area of Damascus in August 2013 and caused killings around 300 people, the USA did not intervene in the conflict militarily. Rather it mobilized the UN and a Security Council resolution was issued for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. The USA also began to support rebels militarily. However that was suspended as a result of Islamist rebels’ seizure of some of the bases of Western-backed Free Syrian Army.

The USA suggests the creation of an interim government as a way forward. It also does not envisage a role for Bashar al-Assad. Because of years of animosity, the US opposes a role for Iran in Syria. The Syrian opposition also opposes the presence of Iran in the negotiation table as it is sided with the Assad regime in every aspect.

The security of Israel is also paramount for the US while looking for a solution to the Syrian conflict. While initially the US proposed the removal of al-Assad as a precondition, the emergence of new actors such as al-Nusrah and the Islamic State (IS) or formerly ISIS and a likelihood of an administration under the Muslim Brotherhood led to acceptance of status quo in Syria. As the conflict prolonged, a new danger appeared in Syria and Iraq. That is the danger of spread of terrorism through the so-called Islamic State. As long as stability is not established in Syria, there is a real danger that things will worsen. However the new status quo, shared by the new actors, is seemingly not a risky circumstance for Israel. Insomuch that it is argued[xli] that Israeli warplanes have many times struck Syrian territories, giving an overt message even to Russia.

Apparently the intervention in Syria was an intention fed up with emotions which recalls American idealism. However Walt assesses the current position of the Obama administration on Syria as a realist approach. As some people suggest more restrained US approach has opened the door to instability and even chaos, Walt questions whether direct intervention would make Americans safer and more prosperous. He concludes that even though innocent third parties suffer in the end, Obama’s approach is based on cold-hearted realpolitik.[xlii] That is to say an approach based on national interests but not ideological considerations. However this approach looks like closer to pragmatism rather than realism. Currently Russia-Iran block is successful at least in keeping status quo in favour of Assad regime and their interests. Although official statements that estimate the regime-break, the USA dramatically failed changing Assad regime and relative dominancy of the Russia-Iran block.

Finally the USA-led initiative “Friends of Syria” group is a noticeable effort. Including many countries and international NGOs, this diplomatic attempt in fact was an organizational response to the vetoing stance of China and Russia at the UNSC. However, despite the gatherings hosted around 100 states and NGOs during 2012, just after the attendees have dramatically shrunk. This failure can be elaborated as the inevitable result of the insuperable UNSC system.

 

 

4.3                Russian Federation

 

Soviet Union before its dissolution and Russian Federation have had warm relations with Syria. Being sided with the Assad regime Russia has presented support from every aspect when the conflict started in Syria. As the political discourse, Russia used sovereignty and non-interference to internal affairs principles in dealing with Syria.[xliii] Having defended the Assad regime in the UN, Russia rejected the UN resolutions and sanctions with its veto power. While the USA has been against the continuance of Bashar al-Assad, Russia supported his stay in the Syrian politics and saw any attempts to remove him as interference into the internal Syrian politics.

One of the Russian policies on Syria has been to make sure that Syria does not resemble to Libya where there was an outside military intervention on the side of rebels. Mere condemnation of the Syrian regime was not something Russia shied away. For instance, Russian ambassadors declared that Russia was not “categorically” against adopting a resolution on Syria and would not oppose a UN resolution condemning the violence in Syria as long as it does not include sanctions or other “pressures”.[xliv] Russia also opposed the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria. In the Geneva Conferences convened to find a solution to the Syrian Conflict, Russia defended Syria by opposing to interference of “outside players” in Syria’s sovereign affairs. Russia also suggested the inclusion of Iran in the conferences. It also opposes making Assad’s departure as a condition for peace.[xlv]

Russia has been one of the main providers of weapons and ammunition to Syria. As of 2012, Syria accounted for 10 per cent of Russia’s global arm sales that was around 1.5 billion dollars.[xlvi] As of 2014, Russia still supports the Syria regime despite its brutal record up to then. As the number of deaths exceeded 191.000 as of August 2014, Russia is one of the international players to be blamed for this result. Russia also does not seem to be ready to drop Bashar al-Assad as part of a transition process in Syria. Unless the Russian position changes, the departure of Assad, who is ultimately responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent Syrian civilians, does not seem possible anytime soon.

 

 

4.4          Egypt

 

With its population of 85 million, Egypt is the largest Arab country and occupies a central role in Arab politics. So when demonstrations started in Egypt in 2011, it was guessed that if anything happened there, it would have repercussions at the rest of the Arab world. Mubarak’s departure raised the hopes of those seeking democratic reforms and an end to decades of repressive rule. However Islamists, secularists and the supporters of the old military regime could not find a common ground and the country went back to the old system.

The policy and approach of Egypt also changed according to the ruling people. The new government after the departure of Mubarak supported the Syrian opposition and called for the Syrian administration to refrain from using force to suppress protesters. They called for a national dialogue between the Syrian authorities and citizens.[xlvii]

The deposed President Mohamed Morsi cut all diplomatic ties with Syria on 15 June 2013 and he warned Lebanese Hezbollah not to fight for the Syrian regime. He said that "Hezbollah must leave Syria; there is no place for Hezbollah in Syria". After Libya and Tunisia, Egypt became the third Arab country to cut ties with Syria.[xlviii] However he was himself deposed 18 days later and the new regime of Egypt did not maintain Morsi’s hard line on Syria. The reason for that may be the conviction that there were common interests between post-Brotherhood Egypt and anti-Islamist Syria under Bashar al-Assad.[xlix]

 

 

4.5          Iraq

 

Even though they espoused the Baathist ideology, Syria and Iraq could not get on well in the last part of 20th century. While Syria was relatively stable, Iraq had never become stable ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979. It first went to war with Iran leaving almost a million people dead behind it. Then it occupied Kuwait. That led to international intervention and the Gulf War.

When Saddam Hussain was removed from power by a coalition led by the US and the UK, there was an optimist expectation that Iraq would finally become a democracy. However things have not developed as expected. Iraq is now in turmoil as in Syria. There are Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parts in Iraq and a stable democratic state is not in the horizon. A recent phenomenon is the so-called IS.

Following the US forces left in 2011, an uneasy Shia-led government took over. When the conflict started in Syria, Shiite Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was the Prime Minister. He was both pro-Iranian and pro-Shiite in his policy choices. Iraq initially allowed its airspace to be used by Iran for military equipment shipments to Syria.[l] So he clearly supported Assad against the opposition.

 

 

4.6          Iran

 

Iran has been one of the key players on Syria. Relations between Iran and Syria developed further when the Iranian revolution took place. During the Iran – Iraq war which started in September 1980, Syria notably supported Iran instead of Iraq where the Baathist regime was dominant as it was in Syria. On the other hand Iran had also supported Syria’s brutal crackdown when Hama uprising took place in 1982.

It is claimed that from the beginning Iran has been providing military advisers to help the Syrian military and sent 9 billion USD in arms to Syria every year despite its own weak economy.[li] While backing the Assad regime with intelligence services, Iran[lii] “shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells, to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran”. Additionally Iran has been providing essential military supplies to Syria primarily by air.[liii] Iran has also been using its power and influence on the regional actors to support al-Assad regime. Lebanese Hizbollah and Iraqi regime support the Assad regime. Iran uses its Shiite card to mobilise support for the Assad regime. However that may lead to all-out religious sectarian conflict in the region. Although denied by Iran, her Shiite politics is seen as a threat to Sunni communities in the region.

In the discourse of Iran, the support it gives to the Syrian regime of al-Assad is against America and Israel. For instance, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, then Chairman for the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, condemned the actions of Syrian opposition while in a visit to Egypt after the revolution, claiming the millions of Syrian protesters were U.S. agents trying to destabilize Syria to benefit Israel.[liv] Unfortunately, conspiracies are very widespread in the Middle East and people prefer to explain events with the supernatural things instead of explaining them with simple reasons and facts remaining in front of them. In the peace process on Syria, Iran has been disinvited up to now because of its conflict with the Western powers.

Actually Iran’s political discourse and propaganda is simple but quite successful to form the common sense in the region against America and the western world. If a democratically elected government administers Syria, it would most probably be a Sunni government and not as close as the Assad regime. That prospect frightens Iran and lead to its unconditional support to the present regime. From the beginning, Iran does not hesitate to support Assad. That is why Iran did its best to stop the waving of Arab Awakening in Syria where the current regime is a corner stone for Iran’s Shiite policies. 

 

 

4.7          Lebanon and Hezbollah

 

Lebanon has borders with Syria and Israel and has a unique complex communal make-up. Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze are the main groups that included the region’s minorities for centuries.[lv] That feature also places Lebanon at the centre of Middle Eastern conflicts. It also could not get away from the recent Syrian civil war. Although the Lebanese administration tried to stay away from the conflict, it spilt over the border. Contrastively both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the Syrian opposition have supporters in Lebanon.

Deadly clashes between Sunni and Alawite communities had taken place in Tripoli and Beirut in 2012. What makes the case more complex is a massive influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict is a cause for concern in Lebanon. It is now estimated that one quarter of the population of Lebanon, that is one million, is Syrian.[lvi]

The positioning of Lebanese Hezbollah that stands by the Assad regime is another critical phenomenon. Hezbollah’s fighting for the Syrian regime increases not only the fragility of Syria but also of Lebanon. Iran is the main backer of Hezbollah, whose fighters have played a key role in helping turn the tide in favour of the al-Assad regime. Lebanon is now divided between those for and against the Syrian regime and for and against Hezbollah’s military support for the Assad regime.[lvii]

 

 

4. 8 Saudi Arabia

 

As a Kingdom based on a traditional monarchy, Saudi Arabia was worried when the Arab uprising started. However when events in different part of the Arab world did not yield a real threat, it was relieved.

Saudi Arabia has played an important role in the Syrian crisis. It has mainly supported the Sunni side. It also tries to prevent or contain the influence of Iran in Syria and in the Arab regions.[lviii]Saudi Arabia also uses the Arab League together with Qatar to pressure Syria. However despite the calls of the Arab League for Bashar al-Assad to step down, they were not heeded.[lix]

Initially Saudi Arabia supported the Syrian opposition without much discrimination. However, when Al-Nusrah front and the IS appeared and created havoc across the region, it realized that it might be the second target of the IS and took measures against them. Although sometimes accused of being one of the supporters of the IS as a result of espousal of similar Salafism or Wahhabi ideals, Saudi Arabia denies that. Saudi Arabia also recently declared that the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nusrah and the ISIS are terrorist organizations. Moreover any citizen found guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad faced a jail sentence. It is claimed that hundreds of Saudis are fighting in Syria in the rebel lines.[lx] Saudi Arabia is frightful of the backlash when the people fighting abroad come home. Moreover relations with Qatar, one of the main supporters of the Syrian opposition strained recently as a result of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

 

5.       TURKISH APPROACH TO THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA

 

As an ardent supporter of Arab nationalism and a very close ally of the Soviet Union in the region, Syrian regime under Hafez al-Assad had chosen Turkey as its adversary. Syria even provided bases and material support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Syria and Lebanon against Turkey between 1983 and 2000. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Syria was no longer in a position to maintain this positioning. In October 1998, Turkey declared that it would take military action against Syria, if the regime continued its support to the PKK. As Turkey was very serious, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak intervened and the problem was diplomatically solved with Syria, meeting most of the Turkish demands.

The death of Hafez al-Assad on 10 June 2000 also provided a new beginning for the relations. The Turkish President Sezer had taken part in the funeral. That was a very big gesture for Bashar al-Assad as his father was one of the arch enemies of Turkey. Then relations began to improve considerably between Turkey and Syria.

When the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came into power in November 2002 in Turkey, the bilateral relations had become very close. The new government adopted a foreign policy goal of “zero problem with neighbours”. It was based on good intention principles having a strong idealistic perspective. This improved its relations with Syria further. Some water and economic agreements were signed. Visas were lifted and there were even joint cabinet meetings between the two governments.[lxi]

With the repression of demonstrations bloodily, warm relations began to deteriorate. Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan pressed Assad to remove emergency rule, release political prisoners and adopt a new constitution.[lxii] However things were beyond the sole power of al-Assad. If all the things suggested by Turkey were done, that would have meant the change of power and the people in power were never ready for that. As the administration in Syria was a minority Alawite regime, free and fair elections would mean the change of power from Alawites to Sunnis. That was unacceptable for a regime that controlled the state, army and economy.

After initial efforts to bring together the two sides of the conflict, Turkey realized that it could not change much in Syria and began to support the opposition. This was deemed as a green light to use force by the opposition against the Syrian governmental forces. After initial setbacks of the al-Assad regime, Iran and the Russian Federation rushed to the support of al-Assad with money and weapons. Following, Lebanese Hezbollah began to be involved in the conflict on behalf of the regime. This was the indicator of a struggle in keeping or changing the regional balance of power. Russian and Iranian presence at the field gave a concrete result to keep the current regime alive. This blocked the operational capacity of Turkey and America to lead the booms in Syria. 

Turkey initially tried to build up international support behind the opposition. There was an expectation that al-Assad regime would not last long. When it realized that the Syrian problem is beyond the power of Turkey to handle, Turkey began to stay away from direct involvement. It was also realized that spill-over effects could really destabilize Turkey by alienating Turkey’s own Alawites and Kurds.[lxiii] The crises in Syria affected Turkey’s economy adversely. Turkey’s main trade routes to the Arab world are mostly blocked.[lxiv]As a result, initial open door policy towards every type of opposition was abandoned.

The costs of the Syrian problem are continuously increasing for Turkey. More than 75 Turkish citizens were killed in spillover from the conflict. 53 people were killed in a double car-bombing in Reyhanlı in Hatay.[lxv] It is widely believed that people directly involved with the Syrian security services were behind the attack.

For Turkey, the red line for the number of refugees was 100.000. After the passing of that number, Turkey would construct refugee camps inside Syria. All proved wrong. As of August 2014, the total number of refugees exceeded 1.3 Million and no one knows when they will return. The total amount of money spent for the refugees exceeded 3 billion USD that caused a serious burden for Turkish economy.[lxvi]As a semi-power, Turkey does not have power, experience and capacity to wage a proxy war in a neighbouring country, to undertake regime change or unilateral intervention (except in the Cyprus intervention in 1974). That is why, it confined its activities to taking a clear stance against the Syrian regime, housing and supporting the opposition, welcoming refugees, helping to build an international coalition and working to provide humanitarian assistance.[lxvii]

At the beginning Turkey kept hoping to convince the Assad Regime to take peaceful steps for a liberal change in Syria. However the turning point in this perspective was the meeting which took 6 hours between Davutoğlu (then Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Assad in Damascus. What had caused Turkey to be optimistic were the previous years when the cooperation was made at the highest level. However just after the aforementioned meeting the process was not led by Turkey as desired. It is accentuated[lxviii] that the following political rhetoric used by Turkish policy-makers led the opposition side and the USA-led coalition have high expectation from Turkey. Of course Turkey was sincere in that sort of discourse but its capacity was not coherent with this high level rhetoric. In an analysis[lxix] it is underlined that Turkish foreign policy of pre-Arab uprising was more status quo oriented and evolutionary whereas it became more revolutionary and visionary, thereafter. Accordingly “the anti-democratic and oppressive character of the Assad regime did not prevent Turkey from improving its relations with Syria”. Thus the shift in its policy challenged Turkey’s political posture to be able to pragmatically lead the process.    

As a consequence, it is claimed that Turkey failed in fact reading the ethnic diversity[lxx] in Syrian picture, but never gave up value-based approach to the case. In a survey of [lxxi] regarding the Middle Eastern perception on Turkey, while the 69 percent of the participants generally have positive feelings about Turkey, it was stated as 28 percent in Syria. Actually the case shows the limits of Turkish diplomatic power including intelligence capability in Syria. When considered the quite limited numbers of Turkish diplomats[lxxii] in Syria in particular and in the Middle East in general, it was not surprising that the diplomatic capacity of Turkey was neither deterrent to the regime nor masterminding the opposition forces. Turkey initially followed an idealist policy. When realized that it was no longer sustainable, it reverted to a semi-realist policy. Even though Turkey still maintains that it did not close its border to refugees, it no longer accepts Syrians without proper passports. Refugees who are already in Turkey will also be given right to work to relieve some of their burden to the economy. Turkish decision-makers are aware of the multidimensional complexity of the Syrian problem which has the possibility to affect internal politics of Turkey. Thus Turkish approach to the war and its consequences have evolved to more circumspect policy. 

 

 

6.       CONCLUSION

 

The Middle East and North Africa are seen as a cauldron of intractable conflicts which evoke Russian matryoshka dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other.[lxxiii] So Syrian problem is only one of the dolls that include other minor conflicts which makes the case more convoluted.

As the conflict in Syria has a complicated characteristic, it cannot be described considering only Assad regime and opposition. Firstly it reflects the balance of powers among the national actors, at a local level. Interestingly it became like a bone of contention among even the opposition forces. Secondly, at regional scale, it is kind of tug-of-war between Turkey and Iran including the other regional states which positioned accordingly. Finally it was a clear struggle among the permanent members of the UNSC. Beside that the last one in fact was a tactical war between Russia and the USA.

The responses to the Arab Uprising can be classified in four main axes[lxxiv]; firstly countries like Turkey and Qatar that have at first preferred the change to be made in consensus with the regime but stood with the public just after seeing this is not possible. Secondly the group led by Saudi Arabia has pragmatically acted and accordingly changed their posture when needed. Including the USA and the UK, the third group supported the opposition by official discourse but stayed passive pursuing a timid policy although they have operational capacity to interfere in. The last group which includes Russia and Iran supported the regime in every aspect with decisive steps to keep the status quo in their favour. Hence the last group seems more successful in manipulating the ongoing process as their approach clearer, more concrete and decisive than the other parties.

After three years of fighting, things have become much more complicated and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Both Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria and the opposition have international supporters. While Russia and China are in favour of protecting the current regime; the USA and the western countries in general do not see the current situation as a loss at all, although they prefer the regime’s down. In another saying, the contrast in the benefits of the international actors paradoxically feeds their hidden consensus, at the same time.  

The ongoing protracted conflict in Syria is the reflection of the deadlock in the UN mechanism. The UN, which is responsible from keeping international peace, cannot function properly because of the constant disagreements between the UNSC permanent members. A number of resolutions on Syria were vetoed by the Russian Federation and China. It can be recalled that Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should gain initiative especially when the UN mechanism is locked and if the situation comprises sectarian/religious risks. As a matter of fact IOC might be used more functional regarding the Arab Uprising in general and Syrian case in particular. Similarly, the impasse in Syria raised question marks on the efficacy of the Arab League. As a result the international community as a whole failed in performing a responsibility to protect[lxxv] and forming a collective will.

In this kind of multidimensional conflicts, carrying out zero-sum policies is not rational because the actors are diversifying. As the national interest-based approaches might give birth to new troubles for the international community like refugees, migration, humanitarian aid, child-care, employment, stability and etc., the diplomatic negotiations are to be evolved for international benefits instead of country-based pragmatism.

The initial expectations that the fall of Assad regime was imminent did not come true due to the given continuous support. As a result, the conflict affected the whole population of Syria. There is now an immediate danger of humanitarian disaster and starvation in the country. Civilians have been trapped in cities under siege where basic supplies cannot be provided to them.[lxxvi] Some describe the events in Syria as ‘the Lebanonization of Syria’ by considering what had happened in Lebanon historically.[lxxvii] Therefore ethnic and/or sectarian cleansing is the potential risk to be faced in Syria.

Had the international community made a correct analysis of the situation in Syria beforehand, this conflict could have been prevented and resolved early on. Similarly, the regional actors also misjudged the conflict and had wrong policies. The approach of Western countries was also misguided that the use of force by the Syrian opposition should have never been encouraged. The opposition was given the wrong impression that they would be given full support if they rebelled against the Assad regime. By extension, the impartial communities (including both Muslim and Christian elites) in the country have kept their silent consent to the status quo in Syria, as the uncertainty goes so far.

Syria is also an indication of rivalry between idealist and realist approaches in the international affairs. Idealism requires support for the values like democracy, human rights and freedom of speech in any situation in any country whereas realism is based on interests and power politics. In this respect, the opposition forces and Turkey should have acted more circumspectly.

Solving the Syrian problem was a serious challenge not only for Turkey but also for play-makers in the Middle East. However Turkey’s failure has nothing to do with only its problem-solving capacity but the current complex circumstances in the regional balance of power. Syria turned to a place where the actors professionally use the intelligence instrument at the field. Turkey’s limitedness is partly related to acquiring credible intelligence from the local sources. Thus Turkey’s misleading the picture firstly emerged at the numbers of refugees flew to its southern borders.

After sincere strives to mediate the regime and opposition parties, Turkey is faced with a misperception which presents Turkey as a threat to the stability in Syria. That is why Turkey strongly needs a professional perception management towards international community while carrying out diplomatic attempts. Otherwise, the Assad regime and Iran will keep their success in leading the perceptions that the happenings in Syria are a western and/or American-trap where Turkey takes part.

 

 

 

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PHILLIPS, Macon, “President Obama: The Future of Syria Must Be Determined By Its People, But President Bashar Al-Assad is Standing in Their Way”, The White House Blog, http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/18/president-obama-future-syria-must-be-determined-its-people-president-bashar-al-assad (Accessed on 1 July 2014).

PİRİNÇÇİ, Ferhat, “Arap Baharı’nı Yeniden Düşünmek”, Ortadoğu Analiz, 6/65, 2014. 

REUTERS, “Erdoğan Says He Will Press Syria’s Assad to Reform”, Jerusalem Post, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Erdogan-says-he-will-press-Syrias-Assad-to-reform (Accessed on 27 February 2014).

SASNAL, Patrycja, “The Pessoptimist’s Arab Revolution: A Mismatch between Social Evolution and Political Revolution”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2012.

SHLAIM, Avi, Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace, Vintage Books, London, 2009.

STEWART, Brian, “Is Iran's new 'charm offensive' real?”, CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/news/is-iran-s-new-charm-offensive-real-1.1865464 (Accessed on 29 June 2014).

THE PROJECT TEAM, The Lebanonization of Syria: Report on the Actors of the Syrian Crisis, Ciret-Avt, Paris, 2012.

TİBİ, Besssam, Arap Milliyetçiliği, Yöneliş, Istanbul, 1998.

ULUTAŞ, Ufuk, “The Syrian Opposition in the Making: Capabilities and Limits”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, 2011.

UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2002: Creating Opportunities for Future Generations, United Nations Publications, New York, 2002.

USHER, Sebastian, “Saudi Arabia declares Muslim Brotherhood 'terrorist group'”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26487092 (27 March 2014).

VAN AUKEN, Bill, “Israeli Bombing of Syria Threatens Wider War”, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/09/syri-d09.html (Accessed: 03.01.2014).

WALT, Stephen M., “Is Barack Obama More of a Realist Than I Am?”, Foreign Policy, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/19/is_barack_obama_more_of_a_realist_than_i_am_stephen_m_walt_iraq_russia_gaza (Accessed on 19 August 2014).

WILSON, Scott “Religious Surge Alarms Secular Syrians”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29401-2005Jan22.html (Accessed 26.12.2014).

WINTER, Michael and LEVANONI, Amalia (eds.), The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian Politics and Society, Brill, Leiden, 2004.

---, “Chaos as Syria Rebels Raid Lebanon Border Town of Arsal”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28624524 (13 August 2014).

---, “Dr. Rifaat Al-Assad Speaks About the 1982 Hama Incident”, Youtube, (Uploaded on 7 December 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59ilbOZKCE (Accessed on 11 July 2014).

---, “Egypt's Morsi Severs Ties with Syria, Warns Of 'Counter-Revolution Violence'”, Ahram Online, (15 June 2013) [Accessed in July 2014]http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/74082.aspx (Accessed on 20 July 2014).

---, “Joint Political Declaration on the Establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council among Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon”, MFA-TR (Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), http://www.mfa.gov.tr/joint-political-declaration-on-the-esthablishement-of-the-high-level-cooperation-council-among-turkey_-syria_-jordan-and-lebanon.en.mfa (Accessed on 27.12.2014).

---, “Lebanon Profile”, BBC Country Report, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14647308 (Accessed on 1 May 2014).

---, “Middle East: Syria”, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html (Accessed on 25 May, 2014).

---, “Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic”, United Nations Report, A/HRC/26/CRP.2 (16 June 2014.)

---, “Russia hardens stance on Syria”, Times Live, http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/2011/08/03/russia-hardens-stance-on-syria (Accessed on 19 December, 2014).

---, “Sykes-Picot Agreement”, WWI Document Archive, http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Sykes-Picot_Agreement (Accessed on 16 June 2014).

---, “Syria”, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html (Accessed on 4 July 2014).

---, “Syria Heading to “Point of No Return,” Egyptian FM Says””, Now., https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/latestnews/syria_heading_to_point_of_no_return_egyptian_fm_says (Accessed on 20 July 2014).

---,“Syria’s Assad ‘Starving and Killing Own Civilians’”, Euronews, http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/03/syria-s-assad-starving-and-killing-own-civilians/ (Accessed on 03.02.2014).

---, “Syria Overview”, The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/syria/overview#1 (Accessed on 21 May 2014)

---, “Syria Population 2014”, World Population Review, http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/syria-population/ (Accessed on 29 December 2014).

---, “Syria Profile”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14703995 (Accessed on 26 May 2014).

---, “Syria: The Story of the Conflict”, BBC News, (Last Updated on 14 March 2014), http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868 (Accessed in June 2014).

---, “Witness: Syria and Assad”, BBC Podcasts, (29 December 2010) http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/w2010/all (Accessed on January 29 2014).

 

 



[i] Kate BRANNEN, “Countries in Crisis at Record High”, Foreign Policy, http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/08/15/countries_in_crisis_at_record_high_humanitarian_emergencies, (Accessed on 15 August, 2014).

[ii] Michael WINTER and Amalia LEVANONI (Eds.), The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian Politics and Society, Brill, Leiden, 2004, pp. 134 – 137.

[iii] Bessam TIBI, Arap Milliyetçiliği, Yöneliş, Istanbul, 1998, p. 139.

[iv] See the full text of the agreement, “Sykes-Picot Agreement”, WWI Document Archive, http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Sykes-Picot_Agreement, (Accessed on 16 June 2014).

[v] John KAMPFNER, “The New Statesman Jack Straw Interview”, http://www.newstatesman.com/node/144241 (Accessed on 09 August 2014).

[vi] Bessam TIBI, Arap Milliyetçiliği… cit., p. 153.

[vii] Avi SHLAIM, Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace, Vintage Books, London, 2009, p. 2.

[viii] Bessam TIBI, Arap Milliyetçiliğicit., p. 148.

[ix] ---, “Syria Profile”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14703995, (Accessed on 26 May 2014).

[x] For a book scrutinizing the Middle East in religio-political perspective, please see Engin AKÇAYet al. (eds.), Dini Jeopolitik Yaklaşımıyla Ortadoğu, Akçağ, Ankara, 2013.

[xi] For a further reading on Russian Orthodox Church in Russian Politics to the Middle East, please see Farkhad ALIMUKHAMEDOV, “Rusya Federasyonu’nun Ortadoğu Politikasında Rus Ortodoks Kilisesinin Önemi”, Dini Jeopolitik Yaklaşımıyla Ortadoğu, (ed.) Engin Akçay et.al, 2013,  Akçağ, Ankara, pp. 59-76.

[xii] Lari NYROS, “Religeopolitics: Dissident Geopolitics and the Fundamentalism of Hamas and Kach”, Geopolitics, Vol. 6, No. 3, (2001), p. 135.

[xiii] Bessam TIBI, Arap Milliyetçiliği…cit., p. 158.

[xiv] Sadik AL-AZM, “Arab Nationalism, Islamism and the Arab Uprising”, LSE Conference, (30 November 2011) http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=1285, (Accessed on 21 September, 2014).

[xv] UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2002: Creating Opportunities for Future Generations, United Nations Publications, New York, 2002.

[xvi] Patrycja SASNAL, “The Pessoptimist’s Arab Revolution: A Mismatch between Social Evolution and Political Revolution”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 14, No. 4, (2012), pp. 25 – 34.

[xvii] World Population Review, “Syria Population 2014”, http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/syria-population/(Accessed on 29 December 2014).

[xviii] The World Factbook, “Middle East: Syria”, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html  (Accessed on 25 May, 2014).

[xix] ---, “Syria Profile”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14703995 (Accessed on 26 May 2014).

[xx] Listen to a brief accounts of the events leading to Hafez al-Assad’s taking over, “Witness: Syria and Assad”, BBC Podcasts, http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/w2010/all, (Accessed on January 29 2014).

[xxi] Jack MORRISON, Creation of the Modern Middle East: Syria, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 2009, p. 10.

[xxii] For an analysis please see; Scott WILSON, “Religious Surge Alarms Secular Syrians”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29401-2005Jan22.html (Accessed 26.12.2014).

[xxiii] “Dr. Rifaat Al-Assad Speaks About the 1982 Hama Incident”, Youtube, (Uploaded on 7 December 2011), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59ilbOZKCE (Accessed on 11 July 2014).

[xxiv] David KENNER, “Massacre City”, Foreign Policy, (5 August 2011) http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/08/05/massacre_city (Accessed on 17 July 2014).

[xxv] James MACMANUS, “1982: Syria’s President Hafez al-Assad Crushes Rebellion in Hama”, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2011/aug/01/hama-syria-massacre-1982-archive (Accessed on 27 July 2014).

[xxvi] ---, “Syria Profile”, BBC News…, cit.

[xxvii] MFA-TR (Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), “Joint Political Declaration on the Establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council among Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon”, http://www.mfa.gov.tr/joint-political-declaration-on-the-esthablishement-of-the-high-level-cooperation-council-among-turkey_-syria_-jordan-and-lebanon.en.mfa (Accessed on 27.12.2014).

[xxviii] ---,“Syria”, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html (Accessed on 4 July, 2014).

[xxix] ---, “Syria: The Story of the Conflict”, BBC News, (Last Updated on 14 March 2014) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868 (Accessed in June 2014).

[xxx] Yavuz GÜÇTÜRK, The Loss of Humanity: The Human Rights Dimension of the Civil War in Syria, Seta: Ankara, 2014, p. 15.

[xxxi] Ufuk ULUTAŞ, “The Syrian Opposition in the Making: Capabilities and Limits”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, (2011), pp. 87 – 106.

[xxxii] “Syria Overview” The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/syria/overview#1 (Accessed in May 2014).

[xxxiii] The abbreviation of ISIL is preferred in this article, although the group renamed itself on 29 June 2014 as the Islamic State (IS) and declared its worldwide caliphate which is widely criticized by mainstream Muslim communities.

[xxxiv] For an interview with journalist Cengiz Çandar, special adviser to Turkish president Özal between 1991 and 1993, please see Muhsin ÖZTÜRK, “Ortadoğu’nun Yüzyıllık Düzeni Bitti”, Aksiyon, Sayı: 1036, 2014, ss. 28-35.

[xxxv] Doğu ERGIL, “New Thinking on ISIL”, Today’s Zaman, 7 January, 2015, p. 11.

[xxxvi] See the UN Report, “Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” A/HRC/26/CRP.2 (16 June 2014).

[xxxvii] Mohamed METAWE, “How and Why the West Reacted to the Arab Spring: An Arab Perspective”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2013, p. 153.

[xxxviii] Mahmood MONSHIPOURI and Ali ASSAREH, “The New Middle East and the United States: What to Expect After the Uprisings?”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, 2011, pp. 121 – 138.

[xxxix] Kate Andersen BROWER, "Obama Administration Condemns Syrian Violence Against Protests", Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-18/obama-administration-condemns-syrian-violence-against-protests.html (19 March 2014).

[xl] Macon PHILLIPS, “President Obama: "The Future Of Syria Must Be Determined By Its People, But President Bashar Al-Assad Is Standing In Their Way”, The White House Blog, http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/18/president-obama-future-syria-must-be-determined-its-people-president-bashar-al-assad (Accessed on 1 July 2014).

[xli] Bill VAN AUKEN, “Israeli Bombing Of Syria Threatens Wider War”, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/09/syri-d09.html (Accessed: 03.01.2014).

[xlii] Stephen M. WALT, “Is Barack Obama More of a Realist Than I Am?”, Foreign Policy, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/19/is_barack_obama_more_of_a_realist_than_i_am_stephen_m_walt_iraq_russia_gaza, (19 August 2014).

[xliii] Pavel K. BAEV, “Russia’s Counter-Revolutionary Stance toward the Arab Spring”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2011, pp. 11 – 19.

[xliv] ---, “Russia hardens stance on Syria”, Times Live, http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/2011/08/03/russia-hardens-stance-on-syria (Accessed on 19 December, 2014).

[xlv] Gabriela BACZYNSKA and Stephanie NEBEHAY, “Syria Peace Conference: Foes Clash Over Assad at First Meeting”, Reuters, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/22/syria-peace-conference_n_4643331.html#slide=more332293 (Accessed on 25 January 2014).

[xlvi] Richard GALPIN, “Russian Arms Shipments Bolster Syria's Embattled Assad”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16797818 (30 January 2014).

[xlvii] ---, “Syria Heading To “Point Of No Return,” Egyptian FM Says”, Now., (9 August 2011), https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/latestnews/syria_heading_to_point_of_no_return_egyptian_fm_says, (Accessed on 20 July 2014).

[xlviii] ---, “Egypt's Morsi severs ties with Syria, warns of 'counter-revolution violence'”, Ahram Online, (15 June 2013), http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/74082.aspx (Accessed on 21 July 2014).

[xlix] Eyad ABU SHAKRA, “What’s behind Egypt’s stance on the Syrian war?”, Al Arabiya News, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/05/17/What-s-behind-Egypt-s-stance-on-the-Syrian-war-.html (Accessed on 23 June 2014).

[l] Michael R. GORDON, “Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraqi Airspace”, The New York Times (4 September 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/world/middleeast/iran-supplying-syrian-military-via-iraq-airspace.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (Accessed on 25 July 2014).

[li] Brian STEWART, “Is Iran's New 'Charm Offensive' Real?”, CBC News (24 September 2013) http://www.cbc.ca/news/is-iran-s-new-charm-offensive-real-1.1865464 (Accessed on 29 June 2014).

[lii] Con COUGHLIN, “Iran sends elite troops to aid Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria”, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9526858/Iran-sends-elite-troops-to-aid-Bashar-al-Assad-regime-in-Syria.html (Accessed 28.12.2014)

[liii] Will FULTON, et al., Iranian Strategy in Syria (ISW: Institute for the Study of War, May 2013), p. 6.

[liv]Abul Rahman AL-RASHED, “Iran Condemning Syrian Revolution in Egypt”, Al Arabiya News (15 August 2011) http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2011/08/15/162473.html, (Accessed on 9 July 2014).

[lv] ---, “Lebanon Profile”, BBC Country Report, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14647308 (Accessed on 1 May 2014).

[lvi] ---, “Chaos as Syria Rebels Raid Lebanon Border Town of Arsal”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28624524 (13 August 2014).

[lvii] Gerald BUTT, “The Deep Discord Bedevilling the Arab World”, BBC News, , http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26634679 (31 March 2014).

[lviii] Muhittin ATAMAN, “Turkish-Saudi Arabian Relations During the Arab Uprisings: Towards a Strategic Partnership?”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2012, p. 121.

[lix] Didier BILLION, “The lack of unity is damaging the effectiveness of the Arab League’s threats” (Fanny Lepine interview), Arte Journal, http://monde-arabe.arte.tv/en/didier-billion-the-lack-of-unity-is-damaging-the-effectiveness-of-the-arab-league%E2%80%99s-threats/ (Accessed on 30 August 2014).

[lx] Sebastian USHER, “Saudi Arabia declares Muslim Brotherhood 'terrorist group'”, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26487092 (27 March 2014).

[lxi] ICG, “Turkey and the Middle East: Ambitions and Constraints”, International Crisis Group, Europe Report No. 203 (7 April 2010)

[lxii] Reuters, “Erdoğan Says He Will Press Syria’s Assad to Reform”, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Erdogan-says-he-will-press-Syrias-Assad-to-reform (Accessed on 27 February 2014).

[lxiii] Katerina DALACOURA, “The Arab Uprisings Two Years On: Ideology, Sectarianism and the Changing Balance of Power in the Middle East”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2013, pp. 75 – 89.

[lxiv]  ICG, “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey”, International Crisis Group,  Europe Report No: 225 (30 April 2013)

[lxv] ICG, “The Rising Costs of Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire”, International Crisis Group, Europe Report No. 230 (30 April 2014), p. 1.

[lxvi] See the Orsam report for a brief discussion of the conditions of Syrian refugees in the region, Orsam Project Team, “The Situation of Syrian Refugees in the Neighboring Countries: Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations”, Orsam Report, No. 189, (April 2014).

[lxvii] Erol CEBECI and Kadir ÜSTÜN, “The Syrian Quagmire: What’s Holding Turkey Back?”, Insight Turkey, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2012, p. 21.

[lxviii]Osman B. DINÇER, “Kapıdaki Kriz Suriye: Uluslararası Yaklaşımlar ve Türkiye için Öneriler”, USAK , Rapor No. 12-02 (Mart 2012), s.12.

[lxix] Tarık OĞUZLU, “Realism versus Liberalism in Turkish Foreign Policy: What does the Arap Spring herald?”, Ortadoğu Analiz, 5/56, 2013, pp.39-51.

[lxx] For the evaluation of Turkish foreign policy in an interview with Prof. Kirişçi please see; Reyhan GÜNER ve Sema KARACA, “Mülakat: Kemal Kirişçi”, Analist, Vol. 23, 2013, pp.30-36.

[lxxi] To read an analysis on Arab perception of Turkey including the survey by TESEV, please see; Ali Hussein Bakeer, “2012 Yılında Arap Halklarının Türkiye’ye Bakışı”, Analist, Sayı:23, 2013, s.56-57.

[lxxii] For an empirical review on Turkey’s Power Capacity in the Middle East, please see; Osman B. DINÇER ve Mustafa KUTLAY, “Türkiye’nin Ortadoğu’daki Güç Kapasitesi: Mümkünün Sınırları”, USAK Rapor No. 12-03, 2012, s.19.

[lxxiii] James DORSEY, “The Middle East and North Africa: Cauldron of Conflict”, Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-dorsey/the-middle-east-and-north_1_b_4600277.html (25 April 2014).

[lxxiv] For the review please see; Ferhat PIRINÇI, “Arap Baharı’nı Yeniden Düşünmek”, Ortadoğu Analiz, 6/65, 2014, pp. 6-8.

[lxxv]For an article scrutinizing the responsibility to protect in this case, please see; İbrahim A. Anlı, “Politics of Protection: Responsibility to Protect in Libya and Syria”, JOBEPS, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2013, pp.26-42.

[lxxvi] ---, “Syria’s Assad ‘starving and killing own civilians”, Euronews, http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/03/syria-s-assad-starving-and-killing-own-civilians/ (Accessed on 03.02.2014).

[lxxvii] The Project Team, The Lebanonization of Syria: Report on the Actors of the Syrian Crisis, (Paris: Ciret-Avt 2012) p. 7.