Endgame in Idlib? Prospects for the ceasefire and stability in Syria
Paper for Trends Research by Chris Doyle, March 2020
Many observers believe that the battle over north-west Syria represents the endgame of the conflict in the embattled country. They argue that once the regime recaptures these last areas outside of its control, opposition to its rule will evaporate and Syria will revert to the authoritarian system that existed before 2011.
This paper will argue that rather than seeing the current fighting through this prism, it is advisable to consider it as yet another stage in a nine-year-long crisis. The fighting over Idlib encapsulates so much of the worst aspects of the Syrian conflicts, the underlying causes of which have not been resolved. Little of this will disappear if the Syrian regime regains control, and it may well initiate a whole new series of struggles.
The factors driving the ongoing fighting, and the impact they are likely to have on future instability, remain widely understood by many in the international community. Within this context, many western politicians continue to buy into the misleading binary choice of a dictatorial regime versus extremist Jihadist terrorists.
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