2013 Session 3: The Regional Struggle for Syria

Sofia Platform 2013

31 October – 1 November Sofia (Bulgaria)

Two and a half years after the beginning of an uprising against President Bashar alAssad, Syria is gripped by an ever deepening civil war that is having a significant impact on the entire region. Regional states have emerged as driving forces in the conflict, while they are also battling to contain the impact of tensions rapidly spilling out across the wider area. The panel will explore the competing interests and ambitions of the key regional players such as Iran, Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel. Having opened the door to an ascendant Iranian-led and Shia-dominated axis, the Syria war now represents an opportunity for regional Sunni states to reverse this order. Syria has become the battleground for this broader strategic conflict, with devastating, and increasingly sectarian, effect. Other states in the region are complicating the mix with their simultaneous pursuit of more narrow interests, whether they be the strengthening of particular rebel groups, the defence of Israeli security interests or the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region. The panel will also look at the prospects for a settlement in light of the upcoming Geneva II talks as well as Iran’s recent overtures to the West.

Fatima Ayub, Policy Fellow for the MENA Programme at ECFR (USA)

Şahin Alpay, Columnist, writer and professor (Turkey)

Nadim Shehadi, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House (UK)


Moderator: Dimitar Bechev, Head of the Sofia Office of ECFR (Bulgaria)