Syria’s Uprising: sectarianism, regionalisation, and state order in the Levant

By Steven Heydemann  (senior adviser for Middle East Initiatives at the US Institute of Peace and research associate professor in the Department of Government of Georgetown University)


This paper first assesses the challenges posed by regionalisation to the stability of the post- Ottoman state order in the Levant and how it is shaping the likely contours of a post-Assad Syria. It then reviews the factors that are shaping regionalisation, highlighting the ways in which shifts in regional politics over the past two decades have led to new and troubling patterns of regional intervention in the Syrian conflict. The paper then examines factors that have the potential to mitigate the negative effects of regionalisation. In a final section, it explores options for addressing regionalisation. The paper intentionally focuses on the roles of regional actors. It therefore only addresses the broader set of international actors engaged in the Syrian conflict, including Russia, the United States (US), and the Friends of Syria Group countries, to the extent that their intervention
in the Syrian revolution is relevant to processes of regionalisation and its effects.


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