The CSS Blog Network

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019

Image courtesy of DVIDS/Christian Simmons.

This article was published by the International Crisis Group on 28 December 2018.

As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019.

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What Does the US Troop Withdrawal Mean for Syria?

Image courtesy of DVIDS/Nicole Paese.

This article was originally published by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on 19 December 2018.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that it will “fully” and “rapidly” withdraw the U.S. military presence in Syria, where approximately 2,000 U.S. troops have been stationed in the northeastern, Kurdish-controlled part of the country, near its border with Turkey. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian examines the implications of the troop withdrawal and its broader impact on the Syria conflict.

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Mediation Perspectives: Challenges to the Multi-Track Approach – Insights from Syria

Image courtesy of ColdSmiling/Pixabay

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.


This blog aims to shed light on some of the challenges facing the multi-track approach to mediation through the example of Syria. The multi-track approach refers to undertaking peacebuilding efforts at different levels and interlinking them where useful in order to reach sustainable peace. The concept has regained attention as numerous states suffering from conflict have failed to maintain long-lasting peace despite signing peace agreements at the national level. However, the implementation of the multi-track approach has rarely been tested through evidence-based research. This piece aims to raise some questions aimed at critically examining its application.

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When Will the Next War Erupt in the Middle East?

Image courtesy of dozemode/pixabay

The article was originally published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on 4 October 2018.

The signs are ominous—especially in Israel and its neighbours, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Violence, both actual and rhetorical, has been escalating on all three fronts. Gaza could become the immediate flash point as the Palestinians’ ‘March of Return’, which began on 30 March, intensifies and Israeli retaliation becomes increasingly lethal.

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How Assad Won the Syrian Civil War Before it Began

Image courtesy of watchsmart/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 5 September 2018.

In recent months, many observers of the still-smoldering civil war in Syria have concluded that Bashar al-Assad’s triumph, once unthinkable, now appears inevitable. How did the Syrian regime accomplish such a come-from-behind victory?

Most analysts emphasize how Assad benefited from extensive international support from Russia and Iran, as well as non-state militias like Hezbollah. They also credit Assad’s deft deployment of a divide-and-rule strategy, in which he sought modus vivendis with some opponents—ISIS and Kurdish rebel groups carving out autonomous spaces far from Damascus—while unleashing the full weight of his military strength on moderate Western-backed rebel factions. Yet the most important factor in Assad’s victory was neither his international support nor his wartime strategies; rather, Assad triumphed because Syria’s armed domestic opposition was hopelessly fragmented from the beginning to the closing stages of the conflict.

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