The Assad regime in Syria has survived the war but appears unable to win the peace. After eight years of conflict the country remains an epicenter of instability in the Middle East. Although the regime has regained control of various regions, it has yet to consolidate its command over the entire country. Turkey, the United States and the international coalition against ISIS maintain a foothold along the Northern and North-Eastern borders, while Idlib remains a hotbed of insurgency. Meanwhile, signs of dissent against deteriorating economic conditions and increasing repression are emerging both in loyalist areas as well as those recaptured by the regime.
In this context, and even if there were some effective mechanisms for stabilization, the regime lacks the national and international legitimacy to lead any political transition. Its very survival continues to be closely tied to external support; namely Russia and Iran. Just as important, Turkish policies in the North, whether the cultural Turkification process or the establishment of a national army, further complicates the region’s reintegration in a unified Syria. Internally, deteriorating fiscal and economic conditions mean that the Syrian government will not be able to provide the needed services and will increasingly rely on the private sector for possible reconstruction needs.
To discuss these issues and potential future trajectories for Syria, ISPI and the Carnegie Middle East Center are organizing a one-day meeting in Beirut as part of the pre-MED dialogues. In particular, this roundtable will explore the increasing fragility of the regime and the challenges that it will face moving forward.