Fragmentation of Peacemaking in Syria: Reality and Perception

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Authors: Souhail Belhadj Klaz and Bernardo Mariani

This report finds that an “illiberal peace” is taking hold in Syria, offering an alternative framework in which violence has been halted or reduced while political and social grievances have been ignored.

Key Findings and Recommendations:

  • The marginalisation of Western countries, coupled with policy inconsistencies and the inability of regional organisations and the UN to mediate, have paved the way for Russia, Turkey and Iran to consolidate their influence on the ground and increase their prominence in the management of the conflict.
  • Russia, Turkey and Iran have positioned themselves as mediators and overshadowing peace initiatives by Western powers.
  • Despite the challenges emanating from the war in Ukraine and its already adverse impacts on the humanitarian and security situation in Syria, Western countries should try to insulate their engagement in Syria from tensions over Ukraine.
  • All external actors should redouble their efforts to ensure that ongoing UN-sponsored negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition lead to an agreement on a new Syrian constitution.
  • An immediate priority for the UN Security Council is maintaining humanitarian access to civilians in need.
  • The international community, particularly Western countries, should seriously consider the measures needed to prevent a resurgence of ISIS.
  • Future peace research on Syria should focus on how Syrians perceive peace and fragmentation, especially in relation to foreign actors.

The Global Transitions Series looks at fragmentations in the global order and how these impact peace and transition settlements. It explores why and how different third-party actors – state, intergovernmental, and non-governmental – intervene in conflicts, and how they see themselves contributing to reduction of conflict and risks of conflict relapse. The series critically assesses the growth and diversification of global and regional responses to contemporary conflicts. It also asks how local actors are navigating this multiplicity of mediators and peacebuilders and how this is shaping conflict outcomes and post-conflict governance.