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A New Challenge for Turkey: Civil War in Syria

The Arab Spring gave rise to a variety of transitions in the Middle East. Although initial developments in Tunisia and Egypt created optimism, tragic events in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and elsewhere revived fears about a return to authoritarian governments, failed states and civil war. With no foreseeable change in the UN Security Council with regard to Syria, the country’s neighbors, including Turkey, face the risk of instability. Although a recent agreement between the US and Russia marked a major step toward destrying the regime‘s chemical stockpile, it fails to address the conflict itself. As such, spillover effects continue to threaten Syria‘s neighbors. This paper highlights the critical nature of the situation and the international community‘s role in finding a solution.

A New Challenge for Turkey Civil War in Syria
An opposition fighter prepares a home-made rocket before launching it towards government forces in Syria's northeastern city of Deir Ezzor. AFP
 

The Arab Spring and its Aftermath 

Although it is a truism that the sudden outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 was unexpected, some IR scholars believe that the signs of an imminent bottom-up revolt had been present in the Middle East at the beginning of the new millennium.1 The uprisings were rapid and intense, a near simultaneous explosion of popular unrest across an Arab world which was united and galvanized by a shared transnational media and bound by a common identity. The use of new information and communications technologies – including satellite television, the internet and cheap mobile phones – empowered and connected the people of the Middle East to such an extent that the Arab street, with the effect and spread of a third wave of democratization2, has become a new strategic player in the politics of the region.

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