The Syrian conflict after a decade: The survival strategy of Damascus and its implications for the EU

Zafer Kizilkaya, Sofie Hamdi, Mohammad Salman


The uprising in Syria started ten years ago which eventually turned into a bloody conflict, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing millions. Much has been said and written about the role and objectives of Russia, the US, Turkey, and Iran. Instead, this research paper highlights the positioning and the objective of the Syrian government which prioritizes the consolidation of power in its controlled areas, while adopting a discourse that aims for unity and full territorial integrity. By exploring Bashar al-Assad’s strategy in northern Syria against Turkey and the Kurds, this paper reflects on the potential implications for the EU and offers concrete policy proposals for the decision-makers in Brussels. Especially the worsening economic situation in Syria ensures that the EU needs to re-assess its sanctions regime, considering more targeted sanctions against the perpetrators of human rights violations while alleviating the suffering of the ordinary Syrian citizens. Additionally, this paper argues that the EU should use its socio-economic expertise to increase its visibility in the UN-led Geneva peace process while engaging in bilateral talks with the Astana tripartite, particularly in the provision of humanitarian assistance.



Keywords: Syrian crisis; Syrian government; European Union; Turkey; Syrian Democratic Forces; Humanitarian aid.