The Diplomatic Dimensions of the Syrian Conflict

Published date01 June 2015
Date01 June 2015
Subject MatterArticles
Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University, Ota,
Ogun State, Nigeria.
Corresponding author:
Segun Joshua, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant
University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.
The Diplomatic
Dimensions of the
Syrian Conflict
Faith Olanrewaju1
Segun Joshua1
The domino effect of the Arab Spring in Syria which began as a reaction
against the regime of Basher Assad over the years has deteriorated
into a civil war. The paper investigates the diplomatic dimensions of the
Syrian conflict and pays attention to the conflict of interests amongst the
major powers most especially the United States and Russia. It contends
that the competitive display of power by the United States and Russia
rekindled memories of the Cold War and seriously limited the possi-
bilities of effective intervention in the Syrian war by the international
community. Furthermore, the paper also seeks to explore the diverse
implications of the Syrian war for international and regional politics
which included the possibility of a “multipolarization” of the world
as against a unipolar world dominated by the United States, alarming
proliferation of arms and the threat of terrorism, gross infringement
of human rights and the failure of diplomacy in the presence of cross-
cutting domestic and foreign interests of the powers involved.
National interest, diplomacy, United States–Russia relations, conflict,
civil war
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
19(1) 43–63
2015 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0973598415608480
44 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 19(1)
The Arab Spring that began in Tunisia in 2011 as a protest against and
quest for bringing down the oppressive dictatorial regimes in North
Africa took a more violent turn in Libya and Syria. Although the initial
target was the Basher Assad regime of Syria, the conflict shortly assumed
regional and global dimensions and posed a challenge to UN capabilities
in managing it. Somewhat reminiscent of the Cold War years marked by
polarization of the countries of the world into two major blocs along with
a neutral nonaligned bloc of African countries among others, the posi-
tions taken by various countries vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict divided
them into three blocs—the non-western bloc primarily involving China
and Russia, the western bloc led by the United States and a neutral bloc
consisting of Israel and Pakistan. While China, Russia and Iran extended
support to the regime government, the United States, France, United
Kingdom and other western countries offered backing to the opposition
groups and Israel being in the neutral bloc chose to stay aloof.
The inevitability of clash of interests among nations and the effects
of the intensification of the war such as political instability, economic
volatility, collapse of infrastructure, mounting death tolls of citizens, and
human rights violations among others called for reliance on diplomacy as
the most acceptable instrument for settlement of dispute. However, the
domestic and regional dynamics and most especially the conflict of interests
among Russia and the United States undermined the efficacy of diplomacy
as an instrument of peaceful resolution of the Syrian war. In the same vein,
the conflicting interests of the major powers imposed serious limitations
on the UN’s ability to intervene in the war using military force.
This article seeks to explore these divergent interests, the contending
perspectives involved in the Syrian conflict, and the implications of the
Syrian war for international politics. It begins with a history of Syria
with special reference to its relations with Russia and the United States;
followed by an overview of the Syrian conflict; an examination of the
contending interests involved in the conflict, diplomatic moves and legal
arguments for military intervention, implications of the conflict for the
region and international politics, and the conclusion.
History of Syria
The name Syria was given to the region by the Greeks and Romans
which probably derived from the Babylonian suri. Syria borders Turkey

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