EPRS Strategy By / October 17, 2015

Syria [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski The civil war in Syria has developed into the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian and security disaster….

Mybona / Shutterstock
Written by Marcin Grajewski
Mybona / Shutterstock

The civil war in Syria has developed into the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian and security disaster. An estimated 250,000 people have been killed during four and a half years of hostilities, and over 11 million people have been forced out of their homes. The war has contributed to the expansion of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controlled by a jihadi, extremist militant group. With an estimated 4 million Syrians having left the country, the conflict has also fuelled a refugee crisis in neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt, as well as Europe.

The ongoing fighting has exposed the inability of the international community to resolve the conflict. According to many analysts, the civil war has now turned into a full-blown proxy war involving regional and global powers, as highlighted most recently by Russia’s open military intervention. The European Union is a staunch supporter of a political solution to the conflict.

This note provides links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the Syrian conflict.


Russia in Syria: Counterattacking at the UN
European Council on Foreign Relations, October 2015

Don’t chase Putin out of Syria. Let him fail on his own
German Marshall Fund, September 2015

France’s diplomacy and the war in Syria: A strategic inflection, not a political turn-around
Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, October 2015

Putin’s gamble in Syria
Chatham House, October 2015

Russia’s long-term aims in Syria
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2015

What is Putin really up to in Syria?
Rand, October 2015

Merkel’s Syria trap
Carnegie Europe, October 2015

The long war in Syria: The trees, the forest, and all the king’s men
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2015

Five reasons why including Assad in a ‘managed transition’ will fail
Chatham House, September 2015

The West is walking into the abyss on Syria
Brookings Institution, September 2015

L’internationalisation du conflit syrien
Institut des relations internationales et stratégiques, September 2015

The insoluble Syrian problem: Only wrong answers?
Centre for European Reform, September 2015

What are Russia’s interests in Syria?
German Council on Foreign Relations, September 2015

It’s the war in Syria, stupid!
Friends of Europe, September 2015


Syrian opposition guide
Institute for the Study of War, October 2015

Syrie : le pari risqué de Moscou
Institut français des relations internationales, September 2015

Constructing a new Syria: Dealing with the real outcome of the “ISIS War”
Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2015

The moral and the strategic: The UK’s response to the Syrian crisis
Foreign Policy Centre, September 2015

Forecasting the Syrian civil war
Institute for the Study of War, September 2015

How the current conflicts are shaping the future of Syria and Iraq
Rand, September 2015

Syrian refugees in Jordan: confronting difficult truths
Chatham House, September 2015

Backbone of the Syrian revolt inclusion of rural Sunnis key for international efforts to end conflict
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, August 2015

Syria: An end to the hands-off policy
Centre for European Policy Studies, August 2015

Seizing local opportunities in Syria
Atlantic Council, August 2015

Law, guns and money: regulating war economies in Syria and beyond
Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, Clingendael, July 2015

The impact of the Syrian war on Kurdish politics across the Middle East
Chatham House, July 2015

Unstable authoritarianism: A new hybrid in Arab politics
Danish Institute of International Studies, June, 2015

Syria’s economy: Picking up the pieces
Chatham House, June 2015

The balance-sheet of conflict: criminal revenues and warlords in Syria
Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, Clingendael, May 2015

Iran in the Middle East: leveraging chaos
FRIDE, May 2015

The European Union against a BRICS Wall? The case of the Syrian crisis
College of Europe, May 2015

What drives Europeans to Syria, and to IS? Insights from the Belgian case
Egmont, March 2015

When Jihadis come marching home: The terrorist threat posed by Westerners returning from Syria and Iraq
Rand, February 2015

Syria calling: radicalisation in Central Asia
International Crisis Group, January 2015

War on two fronts: the EU perspective on the foreign terrorist fighters of ISIL
Finnish Institute of International Affairs, January 2015

Le jihad en Syrie et en Irak: un défi pour la France
Institut français des relations internationales, January 2015

Syria’s predicament: State (de-)formation and international rivalries
Sharaka, Instituto Affari Internazionali, November 2014

Iraq and Syria: Diversity threatened and destroyed
Bertelsmann Stiftung, August 2014

The regional struggle for Syria
European Council on Foreign Relations, July 2013

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