Conflicts and resolution efforts in the Middle East are often portrayed as being shaped by a zero-sum mentality. The fierceness with which the Syrian regime, as well as different rebel groups, have struggled for a "victory solution” during the last years corroborates such a view. Furthermore, the pre-eminent role of Alawis (a Shiite sect) in the Syrian armed forces as well as the dominance of radical Sunni Muslims in the rebel militias adds a significant sectarian dimension to this power struggle. This setting is aggravated by regional interference, mainly by Iran and Hezbollah on the regime’s side and by the Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey abetting different rebel factions, including their initial support for the jihadist militia Da’ish (ISIS). Against this complex backdrop a suitable conflict resolution model is still missing, despite several rounds of UN-sponsored talks since mid-2012. This seminar investigates what lessons could be learned from the Lebanese power-sharing agreement (the 1989 Taif peace accord) and be transposed to the Syrian carnage . It assesses whether the circumstances, in 2016, are ripe for a political solution and for engaging into meaningful peace negotiations.
Speaker: Stephan Rosiny, Research Fellow, GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies, Hamburg
Comments: Wolfgang Mühlberger, Senior Research Fellow, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Chair: Teija Tiilikainen, Director, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs