Syria has been mired in deadly strife since March 2011 and the outlook for resolving what is now a full blown civil war looks increasingly dire. The worst case outcome for Syria is one whereby the country fragments and becomes a failed state in which the Damascus government no longer controls its own territory. Under such a scenario, the glue holding the country together comes unstuck.
Asked by Firdavs Rohila, from Eastern Mediterranean University
Today, even though Israel and Turkey have common interests and even if they fully mend their ties, it is likely too politically sensitive—particularly in Ankara—for them to cooperate openly on Syria and Iran.
Asked by Jake C., from University of Texas at Tyler
A number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Qatar, have been providing support to the opposition in various forms, ranging from humanitarian aid to military supplies, such as weapons, armor, and communication devices. However, these efforts have not been enough to turn the tide, and after three years of fighting, a diplomatic solution still seems unlikely.
The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was passed on March 28, 2013, and seeks to regulate and limit trade in arms in circumstances of human rights violations. Unfortunately, it will have minimal effect on the Syrian conflict. Syria's own vote against the treaty, along with Iran's and North Korea's, sounded the death knell for a universally applicable treaty to limit small arms, ammunition, and conventional weapons technology.
Asked by Elias El Mrabet, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Russia today may have less influence in the Middle East than previously, but it continues to have a stake in the region's stability and sees it as an area in which it has important national interests, often at variance with U.S. goals and objectives.
Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus
Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.
Asked by Igbinosa Ojehomon, from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus Author: Robert M. Danin
The United States' policy toward a post-Assad Syria would largely depend on what political scenario results. A victory by unified rebel forces would generate a vastly different policy than a new govenrnment that includes jihadists. In the more likely event that post-Assad Syria descends into greater sectarian violence, Washington would urge regional partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to exert influence with those rebel groups to which they had provided arms and ammunition.
Elliott Abrams and Ed Husain, CFR senior fellows for Middle Eastern studies, lead a conversation on the current situation in Syria and discuss challenges that lie ahead, both for the country and the international community.
Mona Yacoubian leads a conversation on the situation in Syria, including analysis of the religious divide, the role the United States and other international actors should play, and recommendations for U.S. policy.
As the uprising continues in Syria, the international community moved to condemn the Assad regime in the aftermath of the government's attacks on the city of Hama. CFR's Elliott Abrams and Robert Danin discuss how these developments affect U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East.
CFR Senior Fellow Steven Cook and Foundation for Defense Democracies Research Fellow Tony Badran discuss the increasing violence and political change sweeping the region with Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose. Cook and Badran have authored articles in the recently released eBook New Arab Revolt, published by CFR and Foreign Affairs.
Sarin, one of the world's most lethal chemical weapons, has long been stockpiled but is rarely used by states or terrorists. Allegations of attacks on civilians in Syria, if substantiated, would represent a departure from longstanding international practice, this Backgrounder explains.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.