SAM Papers No 20:
Syria: What’s Next?

Oytun Orhan

There has been a critical decrease in the number of conflicts in Syria since the beginning of 2020. The main reason for this is that the internal and external actors involved in the civil war have reached their natural borders within the country. After this stage, any new military step in Syria will go beyond being a struggle between local actors, entailing the risk of interstate conflicts. Such a scenario would increase the costs of war and force the parties into large-scale military operations. As a result, Syria now seems to be divided into spheres of influence. Regions held by the Syria regime are under Russian and Iranian protection, opposition-held areas are under Turkish influence and SDF/YPG-held regions are under U.S. protection.

Although a balance has been reached in Syria, a political solution still seems distant. The main reason for this is that some of the internal and external actors, especially the Syria regime, do not want to accept the current distribution of power and ceasefire borders. Therefore, the parties cannot take steps toward changing the status quo on the field and are moving away from a political solution, which is the most crucial reason behind the military and political blockage in Syria. The most critical question in predicting how the deadlock in Syria will be overcome is which actor has the capacity to maintain the current situation and which actor will be exhausted. In light of this situation, projections about prominent issues regarding Syria’s future in the near- and medium-term are as follows:

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