Since October 2013, much has been going on in Syria. We shall first review major changes in the state of play for the Syrian actors, starting with the Salafi-Nationalist groups, before to re-evaluate our scenarios and their indicators in the light of recent events, notably Geneva 2. As was already underway during September, the various groups opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad have pursued their reconfiguration, while the relationships and interactions among them have evolved. A logical evolution: the Islamic Front If the “Islamic framework” (see update 21 Oct), created on 24 September 2013, was short-lived, as expected by many experts, it was nevertheless an important indication of the changes taking place on the ground, while its very composition foretold the… Read More
As underlined when we started the series on Syria, one of the analytical challenges we face, in terms of strategic foresight and warning, is the fog of war. The, at time, rapid evolution of the situation, fits badly with any static mean to deliver analysis. We need, of course, to monitor what is happening, but also to regularly integrate this surveillance in our strategic analysis and finally to make it known to concerned audience (readers, decision-makers, policy-makers). After having outlined the methodological difficulties and presented the solution chosen, we shall focus on the updates themselves. Methodology: challenges and imperfect solutions First, in terms of periodicity and content of publication (delivery in SF&W jargon), a right balance must be found between… Read More
Having an idea of the forces present on the battlefield in Syria is crucial to understand the state of play, to follow the course of the war, to evaluate the impact of the decisions taken by external players, and to estimate the likelihood to see one scenario (or one of its variations) happening. Here is a synthesis of the various estimates found for each warring group…
Contents 1 Casualties, refugees and internally displaced people 2 New type of analysis and collection 3 The Syrian Civil War, mainly domestic, battlefield 3.1 General Resources and Blogs 3.2.Causes of conflict 3.3 General Syrian War 3.4 Actors 3.4.1 NC, SJMCC or SMC, and FSA* 126.96.36.199 General 188.8.131.52 Muslim Brotherhood 184.108.40.206 Sufism 3.4.2 Pro Al-Assad Groups 3.4.3 Salafi and Sunni… Read More
Despite the recent victory in Qusayr by the pro Al-Assad groups, and despite the strategic character of the city, this scenario seems to be unlikely, but not impossible, in a very near future. To obtain complete victory, we may assume that the regime of Bashar Al-Assad would continue and even strengthen his current strategy of population displacement and use of foreign forces. However, this strategy has profound impacts that would make the construction of peace much more difficult: it favours sectarianism, the spiral of fear, hatred, and retribution, while destroying wealth and thus making it more difficult to deal with displaced people and providing for their return to normal life. As underlined almost a year ago by Joshua Landis: “The… Read More
This post will outline the last but one scenario for Syria for the short to medium term, i.e. “a Secular Syria” resulting from a real victory by one of the warring groups. Considering the current state of play, this scenario is unlikely, even utopic. Yet, imagining it will also suggest possible policy and strategy that could change the odds.
The various scenarios constructed over the last weeks are summarized in a graph, which starts exploring ways to look at sets of scenarios as a systemic and dynamic whole.
This post continues exploring various scenarios around the theme of “a real victory in Syria” by one or the other groups fighting on the ground, starting first with a Nationalist Islamic Syria, and then moving to a Syria under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. For each scenario, current estimates of likelihood will be outlined and some indicators influencing probability will be suggested.
Considering the current state of play, scenario 3: A Real Victory in Syria, and its sub-scenarios are rather unlikely in the short-term. However, they are worth outlining because they bring analytical insight into dynamics and potential strategies to favour or counter one or the other possibility, according to interests, and because they could be relevant for the medium term. The chaos and beginning of “warlordism” that characterizes the Syrian situation, as emphasised by analysts, (e.g. Joshua Landis, 1 May 2013, Syria Comment; Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, 14 May 2013, Jihadology; see also first post of the series on Syria) lead to the relatively small probability to see any of those scenarios (or rather variations on them) happening. Nonetheless, as for scenario 1: Peace in… Read More
Scenario 2: No Syrian in Geneva The diplomatic talks fail and the international conference in Geneva does not take place or is a face-saving sham (see “Scenario 1: Peace in Geneva?” and its sub scenarios for what could result from a true international conference). Considering the current forces on the ground and their balance, we would face a lengthening conflict (probably over years rather than months) with rising prospects of regional and global involvement and chaos. The scope and depth of regional and global spill over would increase with the duration of the Syrian civil war, and, in turn, fuel it. The spill over and contagion would most probably take four shapes (not mutually exclusive). First, we would face any… Read More
(Updated 22 May 2013) Now that we know and understand better the actors present on the Syrian battlefield, we may start outlining scenarios regarding first plausible futures for Syria and prospects for peace over the short to medium term, and second the regional implications of those scenarios, as the regional and even global geostrategic dimensions of the war in Syria are becoming clearer everyday. Scenario 1: Negotiating Peace for Syria in Geneva The diplomatic talks promoting a negotiated settlement of the Syrian civil war are successful and negotiations start. Sub-scenario 1.1.: All but the Jihadis The actors brought around the table are the NC and the Supreme Joint Military Command Council (SMC), the regime of Bashar al-Assad represented by a… Read More