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A Civil War, a Sectarian War and a Proxy War: Problems of Negotiated Settlement in the Syrian Civil War

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This paper examines the Syrian Civil War using seven different civil war settlement theories in order to assess the likelihood of a negotiated settlement ending the conflict. The costs of

This paper examines the Syrian Civil War using seven different civil war settlement theories in order to assess the likelihood of a negotiated settlement ending the conflict. The costs of war, balance of power, domestic political institutions, ethnic identity, divisibility of stakes, veto player, and credible commitment theories were used in a multi-perspective analysis of the Syrian Civil War and the possibility of a peace settlement. It was found that all of the theories except for costs of war and balance of power predict that a negotiated settlement is unlikely to resolve the conflict. Although the Syrian government and the Syrian National Coalition are currently engaged in diplomatic negotiations through the Geneva II conference, both sides are unwilling to compromise on the underlying grievances driving the conflict. This paper ultimately highlights some of the problems inhibiting a negotiated settlement in the Syrian Civil War. These obstacles include: rival ethno-religious identities of combatants, lack of democratic institutions in Syria, indivisibility of stakes in which combatants are fighting for, number of veto player combatant groups active in Syria, and the lack of a credible third party to monitor and enforce a peace settlement.

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  • 2014-05